In Grass' Cat and Mouse, Mahlke's Adam's apple is a reference to the Fall of Man, so the novel can be seen as the loss of Paradise, more specifically the loss of the "childish" Paradise. Can...

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Even if we were both invented, I would have to write. Over and over again the fellow who invented us ... obliges me to take your Adam's apple in my hand and carry it to the spot that saw it win or lose.

In a work of literature, a major theme like this--the fall of youth from "paradise" or innocence--will be introduced at the beginning of the narrative. An early introduction establishes the idea as a frame of reference for readers. It is unlike most will actively note that a theme has been established, nonetheless, the imagery and ideation will remain as a frame of reference guiding their understanding of the rest of the book. The idea will be reinforced in contextual elements throughout the rest of the text to fully illustrate or argue the thematic point being introduced. The excerpted passage doe exactly this: it introduces the idea of Mahlkie's fall from youth's paradise and from youth's innocence while simultaneously introducing the idea that Pilenz is at least in part responsible for the fall. It is interesting to note that, because Pilenz is an unreliable narrator, we can't actually say for certain whether his guilt in Mahlkie's fall is actual guilt or only felt (imagined) guilt.

... in any case the cat leaped at Mahlke's throat; or one of us caught the cat and held it up to Mahlke's neck; or I, ... seized the cat and showed it Mahlke's neck ....


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