Mother Courage and Her Children | Study Guide

Bertolt Brecht

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Mother Courage and Her Children Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 May 2018. Web. 18 Aug. 2022. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, May 7). Mother Courage and Her Children Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Mother Courage and Her Children Study Guide." May 7, 2018. Accessed August 18, 2022.


Course Hero, "Mother Courage and Her Children Study Guide," May 7, 2018, accessed August 18, 2022,

Mother Courage and Her Children | Scene 5 | Summary



Two years of the interminable war have passed. Mother Courage, with her daughter and her cart, has traveled extensively following the troops. Now in Leipzig, Germany, Mother Courage and Kattrin serve drinks to two soldiers who grumble about missing their opportunity to loot the town in the day's victory. The chaplain rushes in with the news "there are people still lying in that yard," and he needs linen to dress their wounds. Mother Courage refuses to provide bandage material, claiming she must look out for herself. Although Kattrin pleads with her to help, Mother Courage will not be swayed, even as the chaplain drags over the wounded people. Kattrin rushes to save an injured baby, leading Mother Courage to mock her, "happy as a queen in all this misery." Eventually the chaplain pushes Mother Courage aside and from her cart steals four shirts, which he rips into bandages.


To Mother Courage it is clear money is more important than human life. She refuses to help the injured peasants because she doesn't want to tear her bed linens or anything else to use as bandages. Anything she gives away is a financial sacrifice, for she knows the peasants won't be able to pay back her loss. To her both the peasants' lives and her shirts are commodities, and the shirts have greater value to her. As much as Mother Courage criticizes army leaders for benefiting from the sacrifices of soldiers, her actions in this scene show her morality as no better than of the leaders she criticizes. As long as individuals participate in the capitalistic system of war, for the author they cannot be functioning members of a true humanity. Not even the introduction of an injured baby, the most vulnerable of victims, elicits sympathy from Mother Courage. Indeed, it elicits mockery.

This scene thus creates sharp contrast between Mother Courage and Kattrin. Whereas Mother Courage seems void of emotion or sympathy, Kattrin feels overwhelmed with responsibility, so much so she nearly attacks her own mother. Despite being raised by Mother Courage and making her living the same way, Kattrin seems not to have lost her humanity, though she cannot speak it.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Mother Courage and Her Children? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!