Lt. Gustl

by Allison Wilson

The wanderings of someone’s mind is a concept that I find immensely interesting but I don’t know if we would be better off if we all spoke whatever was on our minds. I think there is a lot to learn from streams of consciousness. In the story, Lt. Gustl has many thoughts and excuses for his lack of action but he cannot see his own cowardliness or insecurities (or maybe he does but he is never able to admit it to himself). It never explicitly states these things in the story and there isn’t a narrator to give us an overarching tone but simply from reading his internal dialogue, we can infer for ourselves and read between the lines. This is an interesting concept because potentially it shows us how much more can be seen about ourselves if we can manage to take a step back from our own thoughts and come back to them with new eyes and a new perspective.

From this, we can examine the concept of seeing and knowing from the opposite perspective and looking internally to what we believe we know. There is a relationship of perspective in this story: Gustl is living in his present struggles so extremely and (potentially aggravatingly) that he cannot put this seemingly insignificant (to our eyes) incident with the baker into its proper perspective and has instead blown this up to such a magnitude that it has become a life of death situation. This also demonstrates the perspective of society as a whole at the time. From their point of view Gustl isn’t being that unreasonable but from ours, this appears to be a ridiculous reason to have to kill one’s self. This goes to show how subjective perspective can be and how time, social constructs, and the way in which we think about something can dictate our reality.