Original Research

’n Teologie van teerheid - die alternatiewe kerk in Heinrich Böll se roman Gruppenbild mit Dame

C. Saayman
Literator | Vol 16, No 2 | a628 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v16i2.628 | © 1995 C. Saayman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 1995 | Published: 02 May 1995

About the author(s)

C. Saayman, Departement Duits, Universiteit van die Oranje-Vrystaat, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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A theology of tenderness - the counterchurch in Heinrich Böll's novel Gruppenbild mit Dame
Heinrich Böll's novel Gruppenbild mit Dame is a protest against a dehumanized German society - a society which, according to him, is solely committed to production and consumption. In the novel the way in which a certain group of people live is portrayed - a depiction forming a stark contrast with society and its corrupt values. In the novel this small group of people is positioned around the main character, Leni Pfeiffer. Boll could never rid himself of his Christian heritage - thus religious motifs are significant in this work, as they are in his whole oeuvre. In the novel it soon becomes evident that Leni has the qualities o f a new madonna and that the group surrounding her exhibits the characteristics o f a secret church or counterchurch. Not only does this church have its own madonna and its own messiah, it even has its own gospel - that of deliberate underachievement. This article attempts to analyse the above-mentioned aspects of the counterchurch in the novel and to examine the implications of such a subculture for Western civilization, not only in Germany, but also in our own African context.


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