Student Question

What is the dramatic purpose of Bluntschli's father's death in Arms and the Man?

Quick answer:

The primary dramatic purpose of the introduction of Bluntschli's father's death in Arms and the Man is to act as a catalyst bringing the events of the play to a climax so that the love affairs of the main characters can be quickly sorted out. This event also gives Bluntschli the money, inherited from his father, to marry Raina without any objections from her family.

Expert Answers

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First and most immediately, the telegram interrupts the scene of Bluntschli and Raina having a lover's quarrel over lying, as Bluntschli continues in his role as the only man who has spoken honestly to Raina about life.

Most importantly, however, the telegram means that Bluntschli must head for home immediately to settle his father's affairs. This brings events more quickly to a climax: Sergius does challenge Bluntschli to a duel but not, as Raina fears, because he found out Bluntschli was a deserter, but because he has realized that Raina is in love with him.

Raina continues to deny her love or her dishonesty about admitting it, but this becomes increasingly harder a fiction to maintain. Bluntschli's imminent departure, along with his claim to Raina that she will never see him again, becomes a catalyst for more honesty. Finally, everything comes out, as Louka and Sergius admit their love and get engaged, and Bluntschli discovers that Raina is twenty-three rather than seventeen, meaning she is a grown woman he can propose to with comfort. Bluntschli's father's death then paves the way for Raina and Bluntschli to marry with no objections from her family, because of the successful hotel business he has just inherited.

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