During the second world war a small Scandinavian town is invaded by german troops.George Corell, a local store keeper, sees to it that the German army meets with hardly any resistance. Sic soldiers are killed by the enemy. Colonel Lanser, commanding officer of the German unit asks Mayor Orden to cooperate because the germans need coal from the local coal mine. And He and his staff want to live in the mayors house.Mayor Orden doubts if the local people will accept German rule and wants to avoid beeing seen while cooperating with the enemy.
While they are talking, Ordens cook Annie throws boiling water at some German soldiers who have made her angry.
The German officers turn the mayor´s house into their headquarters. They do not feel at home in their new surroundings and are quickly annoyed by one of their fellow officers, Captain Loft ,who insists on rules and regulations. Fortunately The local people seem to have accepted their fate and the german officers begin to enjoy the countryside.
Colonel Lanser tells Corell to watch his steps because some people may want to punish him for his collaboration. Corell doesn’t listen and thinks he is the mayor. Lanser remembers the first world war and wonders how long the people will remain calm. At that moment he hears that Captain Bentick has been killed by a miner named Alexander Morden. Before Morden is tried in the mayor’s house Orden promises Alexanders wife Molly that he will not sentence Alex himself because he is on the side of the people. He tells Lanser he is only wants to sentence the miner if the germans who shot the six localsoldiers are sentenced as well. During the trail it appears that an order from Captain loft had made Morden very angry and he attacked Loft with an axe. When Captain Bentick tried to stop them he had been killed. Morden is sentenced to death and immediately executed. The mayor praises Alex for his courage and says that his action will be an inspiration for all the people. After the execution a shot is fired through a window and hits lieutenant Prackle in the shoulder. During the winter the local people do everything they can to oppose the germans. The german soldiers get more and more nervous also because of a number of sabotage of their electric light supply. Acertain lieutenant Tonder becomes almost hysterical when he realizes that the Germans are beginning to fear the people in the village who stubbornly and silently resist german orders. Tonder is homesick and needs company. He visits Molly Mordeon who insults him by offering him her body for the price of two sausages. But then she admits that she is lonely too.when he has left a meeting takes place in Molly’s house. The Anders boys local miners intend to sail to England. They want to take Corell with them and throw him overboard. Molly’s visitors leave when they hear Tonder return. Molly opens the door to her visitor, hiding a pair of long scissors in her dress.Hunderds of packets are dropped by some aircraft. They contain chocolate, dynamite and letters with instructions how and where to use dynamite. But this is not the only problem Colonel Lanser is faced with. Tonder has been killed by Molly and Prackle is troubled by his nerves.Corell accuses the mayor of participating in resistance activities. The mayor and the doctor are arrested and kept hostage. They are top be executed in case of violence. Doctor Winter is sure that the people will keep on fighting against the Germans even if their leaders should be dead. Just when the Mayor and the Dockter are telling Lanser about the determination of the people several explosions are heard. The story ends with the mayor saying goodbye to his wife.
Analysis & Interpretations
Structure: The story has been told in chronicle order.
Characters: Mr. Corell
Space and Time: The story takes place in a winter in World War II, before 1942 because that is the year that the book is published. The story is told in a chronologically way and in about 9 months time.
The story takes place in a Norwegian town.
Language and style:
Background Information about the writer
John Steinbeck was born on 27 February 1902 in California. He was an American author and a winner of the Nobel Prize in 1962 for Literature for his “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception.” His father came from Germany and his mother came from Northern Ireland.
In 1919 he graduated at the Salinas High School. In 1928 he worked in California as a tour guide, there he met is future first wife, Carol Henning. Steinbeck and Henning married in January 1930.
His first novel was published in 1929, named Cup of Gold. The story was based on the life and death of Henry Morgan. After the Cup of Gold he published a lot of other work, like ‘The Pastures of heaven (1932)’, ‘The Red Pony (1933), The Forgotten Village(1941) and ‘Once There Was A War(1958).
During the World War II was Steinbeck a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune.
John Steinbeck died in New York on 20 December 1968 of a heart disease. He became 66 years.