Mother Courage: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. Mother Courage is suspicious when the Swedish Commander says he needs brave soldiers. It means he is in trouble and wants his men to stick their necks out.

    “In a good country virtues wouldn’t be necessary. Everybody could be quite ordinary.” (Scene 2, p. 39)
  2. This is part of the Fraternization Song that Yvette the prostitute sings, explaining how she became the regiment’s whore.

    “The foe parades down every street.And then with us they take their ease,And fraternize behind the trees.”  (Scene 3, p. 45)
  3. There is talk of peace, but the Chaplain convinces Mother Courage the war will never end. She runs to town for supplies.

    “War is like love, it always finds a way. Why should it end?” (Scene 6, p. 76).
  4. Mother Courage finally has had enough of war when her daughter is disfigured, ensuring she can never have a husband or children. This shows she has some heart and sympathy.

    “Curse the war!” (Scene 6, p. 81)
  5. The Chaplain chides Mother Courage for not wanting peace. He uses a proverb, as many of the characters do, to convey the folk wisdom that if you ally yourself to something dangerous like a war or the devil, you had better keep your distance or you will get devoured.

    “It shows you want war, not peace, for what you get out of it. But don’t forget the proverb: he who sups with the devil must use a long spoon.” (Scene 8, p. 87)
  6. Mother Courage has her ups and downs with her trade, and her journey is sometimes like the first example, and sometimes like the second. Sometimes she is part of the hellish war, participating in its evil by supplying the soldiers to fight. Sometimes she is an oasis to those in need, like the peasants who sell their belongings to her, or the Chaplain whom she hides.

    “Sometimes I see myself driving through hell with this wagon and selling brimstone. And sometimes I’m driving through heaven handing our provisions to wandering souls!” (Scene 9, p. 96)“You all know honest Socrates Who always spoke the truth. They owed him thanks for that, you’d think,
  7. The Swedish sergeant traveling with the recruiting officer is disgusted at the disorganized land of plenty they are approaching. They have no use for their military equipment in time of peace.

    “Peace is one big waste of equipment. Anything goes, no one gives a damn.” (Scene 1, p. 23)
  8. This is part of Mother Courage’s selling song as she rolls through the country rousing customers. This repeated refrain depicts her gusto for life, even in the midst of death.

    “Let all of you who still survive/ Get out of bed and look alive!” (Scene 1, p. 25)
  9. Mother Courage tells the fortune of the sergeant, trying to warn him and her sons that they are marked for death if they go to war.

    “Suppose I know you’re just a corpse on furlough?” (Scene 1, p. 29)
  10. This is a verse from “The Song of the Great Souls of this Earth” sung by the Cook to show that virtues can be dangerous

    "But what happened? Why, they put hemlock in his drink.” (Scene 9, p. 99) .

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