The Caucasian Chalk Circle

by

Bertolt Brecht

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The Saffron Boots Symbol Analysis

The Saffron Boots Symbol Icon

After Governor Georgi Abashwili is overthrown by the Fat Prince, Georgi’s wife Natella is urged to flee the city before the rioting peasants, or the newly-in-power Fat Prince, can get to her and harm her. Her servants urge her that time is of the essence, but Natella is less concerned with fleeing for her life than she is with ensuring her prized possessions come along with her. Of particular concern are a pair of saffron-colored boots, which she has forgotten to pack in her overflowing trunks. Natella orders the servant-girl holding her son, Michael, to put the child down and run inside to collect the boots. While the servant-girl is in the palace, Natella notices that the sky has turned red with fire from the nearing riots, and is so struck by fear that she allows herself to be swept away from the palace on horseback, leaving her child behind. The saffron boots symbolize Natella’s vanity, narcissism, and corruption. She is so disconnected from what matters, and so obsessed with the trappings of her wealth and privilege, that she abandons her own child over a silly pair of shoes. Later on in the play, during the trial, Azdak asks Grusha, who raised Michael, why she would not want to surrender her son so that he can grow up in the lap of luxury. Grusha, silently, considers that if Michel “had golden shoes to wear he’d be cruel as a bear.” Thus, the saffron boots appear again as a symbol of corruption and narcissism, and Grusha fears that her child could forget all that she has taught him. In a play which is deeply concerned with the power of wealth and luxury to corrupt people, the saffron boots serve as a physical symbol of corruption.

The Saffron Boots Quotes in The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The The Caucasian Chalk Circle quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Saffron Boots. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Minnesota Press edition of The Caucasian Chalk Circle published in 1999.
Act 5 Quotes

AZDAK: “I’ve noticed you have a soft spot for justice. I don’t believe he’s your child, but if he were yours, woman, wouldn’t you want him to be rich? You’d only have to say he wasn’t’ yours, and he’d have a palace and horses in his stable and beggars on his doorstep and soldiers in his service. What do you say—don’t you want him to be rich?”

Grusha is silent.

ARKADI: “Hear now what the angry girl thought but did not say: Had he golden shoes to wear, he’d be cruel as a bear. Evil would his life disgrace. He’d laugh in my face.”

Related Characters: Azdak (speaker), Arkadi Tscheidse (speaker), Grusha Vashnadze, Michael Abashwili
Related Symbols: The Saffron Boots
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Saffron Boots Symbol Timeline in The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Saffron Boots appears in The Caucasian Chalk Circle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: The Noble Child
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...servant holding Michael to put the child down and go retrieve a pair of saffron boots from her bedroom—she cannot find them in the messily-packed cases. Shalva attempts to pull Natella... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...pulls her onto his horse and takes her away. When Natella’s servant returns with the boots, she realizes that Natella has left Michael behind. She picks him up and holds him,... (full context)