Comment on the opening of the play.
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The opening scene, between mother Catherine and daughter Raina, does three important things: it tells of the expository off-stage action of the battle, it establishes the romantic view that Raina carries through her life, and it shows Catherine’s equally Romantic view of war. Raina is on the balcony, admiring the stars; the important maid character, Louka, who will provide an important contrast of practicality to the mix, is also mentioned. The balcony will soon be the point of entry of the “chocolate soldier,” Bluntschli, a contrast to the falsely heroic soldiers mentioned here, Sergio, “the hero of the hour”. There are also the first hints of the family’s socioeconomic position. The scene thus sets the dramatic (comic) conflicts between the Romantic and the realistic views of war, love, and heroism, and begins the dramatic discussion of the difference between “arms and the man.”
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