Student Question

Examine the interdependence of Irma and the chief of police in The Balcony by Jean Genet.

Expert Answers

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The relationship of the chief of police and Irma is an interesting one, particularly because, theoretically, the chief of police would be seeking to root out prostitution and close businesses like Irma.  But since they are lovers, the chief has agreed to protect the establishment.

In the revolution, Irma in some ways acts as the protector as she has more power than the chief.  This could be seen as a commentary on their roles in real life and further indication of the way that traditional structures of power are often not what they seem.  The fact that she is acting as the queen to help control or quell a rebellion and that several members of the brothel and their clientele end up acting together as parts of the real government confuse, purposely, their fantasy world and the real world.

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