Tubby Schaumann: A Tale of Murder and the High Seas Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Author: Wilhelm Raabe

First published: Stopfkuchen: Eine See-und Mordgeschichte, 1891 (English translation, 1983)

Genre: Novel

Locale: A town in Germany and a farm overlooking the town

Plot: Social realism

Time: Probably the 1880's

Heinrich “Tubby” Schaumann (HIN-rihk SHOW-mahn), the owner of Red Bank Farm after his father-in-law's death. As a boy, he was very overweight and a slow student, and therefore subject to ridicule. He comes to be called Tubby by the local townspeople. His dream is to live at Red Bank Farm, which he views as a kind of refuge from the cruelty of the world outside. Because he understands the feelings of an outcast, he is able to befriend young, lonely Valentina and her bitter father. Although he tries to please his parents by going away to school, Schaumann is not suited for that venture. Instead, he finds his true place and a philosophy of peaceful acceptance of his life by marrying Valentina and taking over Red Bank Farm. From this safe haven, he wants to take in the whole of human experience: His fossil hunting represents his look at history in all its depth, and his outsider position gives him a wider perspective on the community. At the end of the story, his capacity for forgiveness and humane understanding allows him to wait until after Störzer's death to reveal that man's identity as the true murderer of Kienbaum.

Edward, a boyhood friend of Schaumann and narrator of the story. Although he was Schaumann's closest friend at school, he, too, was often involved in the cruel taunting that the boys aimed at Schaumann. A man who desired travel and adventure, Edward has made his fortune and settled in South Africa. Returning to his boyhood town, he visits his old friend Tubby and comes to admire and appreciate him.

Andreas Quakatz (KVAY-kats), the owner of Red Bank Farm. He is falsely blamed for the murder of Kienbaum. At first a bitter old man, he is helped by Schaumann to become somewhat reconciled to the unfair situation that made him an outcast. He dies without seeing his name cleared.

Valentina, the daughter of Andreas Quakatz and later Schaumann's wife. As a child, she often bears the brunt of her father's bitter anger against the community. Finding love and compassion in Schaumann, she blossoms into a loving, compassionate woman herself, in spite of her difficult childhood. Her care and devotion to Schaumann make Red Bank Farm a true refuge for them both.

Friedrich (Fritz) Störzer (FREE-drihkh STEHR-tsehr), a country postman who often told young Edward stories about exotic places. A mild-mannered worker who never missed a day's work during thirty-one years of service, he is tormented by Kienbaum, until one day he accidentally kills him. Afraid to confess even after Quakatz is unjustly accused, he carries a burden of guilt with him until his death.

Kienbaum (KEEN-bowm), a prosperous livestock dealer and bully who constantly mocked and tormented Störzer on his mail route. His death brings the community to label Quakatz a murderer.

Meta (MAY-tah), the barmaid who listens to Schaumann's story about how Störzer happened to kill Kienbaum and then spreads the information to the community, as Schaumann had intended.

Schoolmaster Blechhammer (BLEHKH-hahm-mehr), who is a leading part of the cruel, judgmental force of the community that mocks Schaumann for personal characteristics outside the societal norm and that judges Quakatz guilty without sufficient evidence, using rumor to make him an outcast.

Categories: Characters