Max: a play
Gunter Grass's latest play confronts two generations: the young activists, pressing for change through violent protest, and the middle-aged believers in gradual reform through the democratic process. On the one side there is Philipp Scherbaum, a young student, spurred on by his Maoist girl friend Vero; and on the other, Eberhard Starusch, bachelor and teacher of German and history at a Berlin Gymnasium, advised by his dentist. The action of the play centers around Scherbaum's grisly scheme to burn his dachshund Max at a Berlin cafe in view of cake-stuffing patrons, to stir their consciences against the American use of napalm in Vietnam. People, so he reasons, are more responsive to cruelty against animals than against humans. Starusch is bent on rescuing his favorite pupil from the prospect of certain death at the hands of irate Berliners. Through this outrageous predicament, Grass succeeds once again in illuminating our social and political confusions.
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