Between Identity and Commodity: Female Urban Experience in Vicki Baum's Menschen im Hotel Page: 3
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chemistry (von Ankum, "Motherhood"). Lynda King's body of work on Baum briefly discusses
what Flammchen's character communicates about women and gender roles but remains primarily
focused on demonstrating the relevance of the author's writing and analyzing extra-textual
factors, such as the literary market, Baum's relationship with Ullstein, and the author's own views
of her works. Similarly, Nicole Nottelmann includes a brief discussion of the ambivalent role of
Baum's female characters in Menschen im Hotel (Strategien 155-57) while devoting the bulk of
her work to a narratological analysis. Heather Valencia directly addresses the question of
whether Baum is a political author without specifically discussing her political message, or lack
thereof, on women's rights. This paper will attempt to address the gap with a primarily intra-
textual analysis of Flammchen's character.
The young stenographer Flammchen, one of two female protagonists in Menschen im
Hotel, provides a revealing focus for such a study. Based upon the liberated New Woman of the
1920s, Flammchen's character reflects the reality of many young women's experiences as white-
collar workers in Weimar Germany. She is unable to achieve prosperity or independence as a
professional due to an uncertain economy and patriarchal views of women, which endure despite
new opportunities for female workers. Like the protagonists of other works by female authors at
the time, Baum's Flammchen resorts to marketing her beauty. Earning money through the sale of
her body rather than her skills, she negotiates within a consumer economy, in which advertising
promotes the objectification of women. Faced with the choice between continued hardship or
financial and emotional security, she chooses to give up her opportunity for independence and
retreat into a traditional female role. This decision shows the disillusionment many women
experienced when their pursuit of new, emancipated roles brought only hardship and led them to
reconsider traditional roles for the security they offered.
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Reference the current page of this Thesis Or Dissertation.
Jones, Carina. Between Identity and Commodity: Female Urban Experience in Vicki Baum's Menschen im Hotel, thesis or dissertation, Spring 2012; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc146554/m1/4/: accessed May 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Honors College.