On character

Ornament

24 March 2010, 1.38 CET

Herta Müller tells the Guardian about the time she refused to become an informant for the Securitate:

She told the man that she didn’t “have the character for this”. “The word character made the Securitate man hysterical,” she said. “He tore up the sheet of paper and threw the pieces on the floor. Then he probably realised he would have to show his boss that he had tried to recruit me, because he bent over, picked up the scraps and tossed them into his briefcase. After that he gave a deep sigh and, defeated, hurled the vase with the tulips against the wall. As it shattered it made a grinding sound, as though the air had teeth. With his briefcase under his arm he said quietly: “You’ll be sorry, we’ll drown you in the river’. I said as if to myself: “If I sign that, I won’t be able to live with myself anymore, and I’ll have to do it on my own. So it’s better if you do it’.”

Müller’s greater courage was not what she said but that she immediately stopped filling out the form.

The part that I find most convincing is that the Securitate man reacted in such a way to the word “character”.