“mother courage,” bertolt brecht

Mother Courage and the Young Soldier are waiting to file separate complaints with the Captain.

YOUNG SOLDIER: It’s no use your talking. I won’t stand for injustice!

MOTHER COURAGE: You’re quire right. But how long? How long won’t you stand for injustice? One hour? Or two? You haven’t asked yourself that, have you? And yet it’s the main thing. It’s pure misery to sit in the stocks. Especially if you leave it till then to decide you do stand for injustice.

YOUNG SOLDIER: I don’t know why I listen to you. Screw that Captain! Where is he?

MOTHER COURAGE: You listen because you know I’m right. Your rage has calmed down already. It was a short one and you’d need a long one. But where would you find it?

YOUNG SOLDIER: Are you trying to say it’s not right to ask for the money?

MOTHER COURAGE: Just the opposite. I only say, your rage won’t last, You’ll get nowhere with it, it’s a pity. If your rage was a long one, I’d urge you on. Slice him up, I’d advise you. But what’s the use if you don’t slice him up because you can feel your tail between your legs? You stand there and the Captain lets you have it.

CLERK: … Be seated!

The Young Soldier sits.

MOTHER COURAGE: And he is seated. What did I tell you? You are seated. They know us through and through. They know how they must work it. Be seated! And we sit. And in sitting there’s no revolt. Better not stand up again – not the way you did before – don’t stand up again. And don’t be embarrassed in front of me, I’m no better, not a scrap. They’ve drawn our teeth, haven’t they? If we say boo, it’s bad for business…

I think you should stay here with your sword drawn if you’re set on it and your anger is big enough. You have a good cause, I admit. But if your anger is a short one, you’d better go.

YOUNG SOLDIER: Kiss my ass.

He exits.

CLERK: The Captain is ready now. You can file your complaint.

MOTHER COURAGE: I’ve thought better of it. I’m not complaining.

She exits. The clerk looks after her and shakes his head.

The question being, is this a short anger or a long one? And how do we keep it going longer?

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