The Balek Scales By Heinrich Böll Essay Sample
The Balek Scales by Heinrich Böll is at its core a story of an individual, more precisely the narrator's grandfather discovering crude injustice paired hand-in-hand with the foul greed of a family that has been conning the locals of their money by underpaying them for their hard-earned goods. The family, known as the Baleks were able to sham the townsfolk through a grand scale that would weigh items short of what they were worth, by exactly five pebbles, or fifty-five grams. The story concludes with the Baleks losing their public standing, exposed as ill-intentioned, greedy nobility. Böll is able to utilize deep, deriving, and descriptive imagery in conjunction with an equally varied tone to show that society will retaliate against a system when it is unlawful and deceptive.
Society’s rebellion will be a bloody battle of justice. Böll introduces us to this idea by first showing a tranquil environment filled with individuals that were in the dark regarding the machinations of the Baleks behind the scenes. He shows us the joyful life if one of the children from the working class and gives an in-depth description of them enjoying themselves as they would forage and “crawl deep into the green darkness of the forest during the autumn, when dampness drove the mushrooms out of the soil, and almost every family had its own places where it gathered mushrooms”. Here society is at ease and is living the standard life of an 18th-century village in Germany. However, the imagery begins shifting to a gruesome and horrible fashion as the townsfolk discover the fraud. This feeling is heightened and elevated to its absolute maximum when the town counts up the debt of the Balek household in the grandfather’s basement. The Balek subjugation force, which had come to stop the counting of the debt “ arrived, made their way into my great-grandfather’s front room, shooting and stabbing as they came, and removed the scales and the book by force. My grandfather’s little sister Ludmilla lost her life, a few men were wounded, and one of the gendarmes was stabbed to death by Wilhelm Vohla the poacher.” This allows us to see that society has had enough of the scam and that they will no longer remain passive. Both of these examples allow us to see how society will react when it has been conned and how civil unrest is to be expected. While both of these uses of vivid imagery are utterly different in what and how they describe, this shift between them allows us to see the result of injustice in society and how society will not recede if faced with deception and fraud.
Böll uses a varied tone in a similar way to his imagery, where it allows him to express that society will respond to corruption and fraud with angry rebellion. At the beginning of the story, many positive connotations are made. Words such as light, pleasure, as well as when the children blissfully “peel the potatoes, precious pale-yellow fruit whose thin peel had to be produced afterward to dispel any suspicion of extravagance or carelessness” all come together to show happiness and glee is in the air. Once again, once the town discovers the iniquity of the Baleks, positive connotation is no longer found, pejorative words such as “helpless and forlorn’ instead take their place which further shows the transition from an oblivious society of unquestioning sheep, to an enraged and vicious pack of wolves that no longer abide by unfairness. Both of these uses of varied tone, just as the imagery did, allow us the reader to observe the rupture that erupts from society once it has been made aware of the scam it was exposed to. While not as extreme, the tone still shows à shift from a positive and oblivious connotation to a morose and dismaying tone that fits with the idea of society becoming progressively unhappy and rebelling once its eyes were opened to unfairness. Both imagery and tone are used by Böll to express virtually the same idea of how any society will inevitably incur its wrath upon those who deceptively stole from them.
To conclude, this story is à prime example of the rebellion of society and could be connected to many real-world rebellions such as the french revolution or the American war of independence. The story details the world's injustice all while fighting against it by showing that a society with the common goal of retaliation will undoubtedly succeed. Henrich Böll, through his story the Balek scales is able to expose society and show that if injustice and unfairness is brandished in its face, that it will counter through rebellion and retaliation