Group Portrait with Lady Places Discussed

Heinrich Boll

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Rhineland. Region surrounding the Rhine River in western Germany. The Rhineland experienced heavy militarization in 1936 and severe destruction by Allied bombing during World War II. The novel’s time frame and settings are revealing in that they signify harsh living conditions and the political socioeconomic climate that affect Leni and those around her in a war-torn environment. Civilians must cut back on luxury and food items, and bombing raids are frequent during the war.

During the years of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, nationalism and political ideals are instilled in the German people at all levels, to such an extent that Leni’s school votes her the “most German” girl in the city, district, province, and perhaps even the whole country. Despite the honorary title, however, she is actually German only in her physical heritage and place of birth—nothing more.


Nursery. Business concern for which Leni works in the Rhineland. During the economic instability of wartime, Leni’s boss creatively sets up a place to sell wreaths to funerals. He and his workers efficiently make the business into a lucrative enterprise because of the war. Since people are dying everyday, floral wreaths are in demand. The business becomes even more lucrative, thanks to Leni’s ingenuity in recycling wreaths and ribbons to save production costs.

Leni also meets a Russian prisoner of war...

(The entire section is 416 words.)