In scene six, the Chaplain at the bar whistles at Mother Courage on her way to Commander Tilly’s procession. They have quite an interesting conversation about the war and her business, which unveils their attitudes towards the war situation at stake. Then, the Chaplain digresses and broaches on the subject of relationship, that is, between Mother Courage and himself. Immediately after the conversation Kattrin runs into the bar with a wound on her forehead and this circumstance reveals Mother Courage’s unforeseen traits. We first look at the thematic ideas that arise from the characters’ attitudes towards the war.
Primarily, the ideas that cut across board in all the scenes is the war’s intolerance for virtue. We could notice this air of restrictiveness when the Chaplain talks about the war not being conducive for him to carry out his duties, as he should, that is, spreading the gospel truth. He states “My talents and abilities are being abused in this place by manual labour,” halfway through the scene. He is forced to take the position of a woodcutter in the war which , nevertheless, does not aid him an iota in his religious duties. Other than this he would have been preaching and performing miracles, according to him.
We also realise that the war situation presented in scene six is not improving Mother Courage’s business. She thinks of whether to stock up since prices are so low and thus, less profit less profit is being made. By means of stocking up she in preparation for the season when the war is tougher, that is, if it goes on she will make more profit because prices will then be high. But presently in scene six the war situation is not helping her business. Contrary to the negative theme raised earlier, the war seems to be beneficial, in a sense, not only to those who carry out immoral and dishonest acts, but businesses as well.
Mother Courage needs the war for her business to survive. “But if the war is going to end it’s money down the drain,” says Mother courage in her conversation with the Chaplain at the commencement of the scene. The war, to the Chaplain, “satisfies all requirements,” which he states in response to the clerk’s condemnation for the war. The Chaplain thinks that what one can do at peace time can be done during wartimes, or even more, when he states that, “you can’t play cards maybe, nor can you in the depths of peacetime when you are ploughing.
We can also tell that the war is advantageous when the soldier at the bar sings his song that symbolises his happiness about the war. We can also talk about the different and conflicting character traits portrayed by Mother Courage and the Chaplain. Mother Courage seems to be untamed, in the sense that she uses rude and insolent talk towards the padre who is supposed to be a prestigious person. Her ostentatious attitude can be seen at the point where the Chaplain is about to chop up wood. Mother also reveals her strong, unbending nature when the Chaplain tries to convince her into having a much closer, but solid, relationship with him.
Here she also uses rude talk but seems to be justified because a man of such calibre has o right to make such advances towards a woman since it goes against what he stands for. In an indirect opposite to Mother Courage’s character, we find her to be sensitive when Kattrin returns wounded on her forehead. She appears all-concerned and caring towards her daughter and even condemns the war because it is due to its atrocities that have harmed Kattrin. Mother Courage’s latter attitude towards the war, in contrast to the previous one at the opening of the scene and we find this idea of ambivalence being employed by the author as didactic.
It is to say that “One cannot eat one’s cake and have it. ” We agree to this idea vehemently because throughout the book Mother Courage tries to strike a balance between her profit-making venture and looking after her children, but ends up losing her children as a result of the war. The Chaplain also displays certain traits in scene six which we find unconventional of a true padre. We find him to be boastful. He brags about his power and skill, which we think is an attempt to make Mother Courage succumb to his demands. This is seen when he threatens to “preach so you’ll lose all sense of sight or hearing. He does not succeed anyway, since Mother Courage does not kowtow to anyone.
The Chaplain is also seen to be a conman when he tries to convince Mother Courage into having a more profound relationship with him but does not succeed. She, in great resentment, condescendingly chastises him. We see here that the writer attempts to castigate the proverbial pastor. In a nutshell, we happen to come across the characters showing different but conflicting attitude towards the war in scene six. I think it is the writers attempt to carry a message across from the characters’ attitudes portrayed in this scene.