Eduard Keller Character Development-
Misleading, of course. As always. But unforgettable; the red glow of his face - a boozer's incandescent glow. The pitted, sun-coarsened skin - a cheap, ruined leather. And the eyes: an old man's moist, wobbling jellies. But then…the suit: white linen, freshly pressed. And - absurdly in that climate - the stiff collar and tie. 'Herr Keller?'
The introductory paragraph of the novel is of great significance and whilst the reader doesn’t realise this at the time, already Goldsworthy is in our heads making us wonder about this character, the Maestro, Eduard Keller. Goldsworthy uses may facets of Keller as a point of intrigue in this novel, straight away Keller is abnormal, he doesn’t belong in Darwin, which is described as a “city of booze, blow, and blasphemy.” (p.9) by Dr Crabbe. Early in the novel, Keller and Paul simply do not get along, and through Paul’s narrating, we (the reader) think of the Maestro in a negative manner as well. Paul’s arrogance blinds him to Keller’s painful history. Paul’s self-absorption is emphasised by categorising Keller as a ‘Nazi’, despite knowing ‘almost nothing about him’. This is the older Paul’s greatest regret, as it inhibited young Paul’s relationship with Keller. On hearing Keller’s accent, Paul immediately characterises Keller as a Nazi– a judgement made easy by Keller’s authoritarian teaching regime. Goldsworthy uses the development of Keller to great effect as his development really shapes the novel and entices the reader. Keller is an isolated figure, we only hear of his interaction with the Crabbe’s, eventually Paul himself starts to wonder what lies beyond the white suit, the missing finger, the collection of newspaper articles, the solitude and this is when the story really starts to turn. Goldsworthy drops hints throughout that novel which can be fully appreciated when re-reading it. Paul asks questions about Vienna due to his interest in performing there, Keller's response is that Vienna is “a city of show… of veneer" "The experimental Laboratory for the end of the World" it is clear that memories of Vienna bring about pain for Keller, but Paul’s arrogance causes him to think nothing of it. Keller’s scrapbook deals with human suffering, with many of the pictures and articles being confronting for Paul. Keller’s inner reasons for keeping the scrapbook are to gain some sort of relief from his own pain. "If only at your age I had such text books" Keller states in reference to books given to Paul about the horrors of war, something that Keller believes may have helped him save his family rather than dealing with the trauma of their deaths being due to his naivety. Keller is filled with guilt and self-contempt over the events in Austria. He sees only imperfection in everything he does. He sees nothing but futility in his inadequate attempts at creating ‘art’. The older Paul wishes he had heeded his teacher’s advice and had not wasted time on a futile dream.
Goldsworthy demonstrates that humility and respect, rather than arrogance and rebelliousness, would have helped Paul mature quickly and would have saved him from foolish mistakes. Paul and Keller’s relationship is often characterised by brutal honesty and their prickly student/teacher association. The novel also traces their growing fondness for each other. It is the growing of this relationship of teacher and student, which at times is like father and son that not only shapes Keller’s development as a character, but also the novels development. It is the older Paul, who writes and records Keller’s life in a lasting memorial to him. At Keller’s hospital bedside Paul shows him all the love and affection of someone truly sorrowful at his impending death. Keller is otherwise alone, and Paul fills the role of the missing son by holding his hand and speaking to him in German. The younger Paul had accused Keller of being a ‘Nazi’, but for the first time as Keller is dying Paul refers to Keller as ‘Maestro’ meaning nothing but respect (p.144). Goldsworthy uses the development of Keller and the revelations of his past to keep the reader intrigued.
Maestro is written as Paul’s memoir, and Paul functions as both the protagonist and the first person narrator of the story. While the story is presented chronologically, Paul writes as an adult looking back on the events of his childhood, judging his mistakes and reminiscing on what could have been. Older Paul (the narrator) already knows how all the events in the story will transpire and his point-of-view reflects his opinions after knowing the whole story. Younger Paul, on the other hand, does not know what will happen in the future or the truth about Herr Keller’s past. Younger Paul is extremely naïve and self-centred, Goldsworthy uses older Paul’s memoir as a true way of showing the misled candour Paul once possessed. There are many benefits to the first person narrator structure, predominantly the insight you get into the thoughts and feelings of the main character, in this case Paul. Paul's memoir begins with the first time he meets Herr Keller, showing the incredible significance their relationship has on Paul's life. A memoir traditionally focuses on the events in the life of the narrator, as this one does, but Maestro is unique in that it tells the story of Paul’s life in the context of his relationship with Keller. He writes only about the parts of his life that relate to Keller, which shows how strongly Paul feels his interactions with Keller defined his life. While the reader sees Paul's initially unfavourable reaction to Keller from his descriptions, it is in this narrative structure that you may gather that in eventuality Paul will grow to regret his initial thoughts on Keller. This can be noted in the introduction when Paul refers to first impressions as ‘Misleading , of course.” (p.3)
Looking back provides the narrative with a nostalgic tone, encapsulated in the novel’s final lines when Paul describes still loving his ‘foolish, innocent world’ of ‘delusion’ and ‘music’ (p.149). While the younger Paul can seem arrogant at times, older Paul is more astute. He is often critical of his younger self: ‘had he spruced up especially to meet me? I was child enough––self-centred enough––to think it likely’ (p.5). Older Paul comes to understand Keller better than before by considering the magnitude of Keller’s personal history in the Holocaust. Paul comments, ‘Sitting here, setting down these first memories of Keller ... I find it hard to understand how much I came to love the man, to depend on him’ (p.13). The older, wiser Paul shows us how he grows into a mature man using this memoir structure to explain the mistakes and misunderstandings of his youth. As Paul comes to understand Keller, due to the first person narrator, we (the reader) come to understand both Paul and Keller. Goldsworthy uses Paul as a Protagonist and Narrator to convey the characters’ thoughts and feelings and to reveal to the readers Paul’s innermost opinions.