Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Kay  Boyle

Rachael  Bennett 
Early Nazism in Germany

Kay Boyle: The Deceptive Nature of Appearances

The Nazi party developed in the troubled environment of post-World War I Germany. The problems of Germany arose after its defeat in World War I. After their defeat, German leaders created the Weimar Republic. The weakness of the Republic caused problems from the beginning. Germans suffered under ineffectual rulers and they were experiencing a horrible economy. The rise of Nazism occurred in Germany in the 1920s, starting out with the creation of the German Workers Party, later called the Nazi Party. One man, Adolf Hitler, took the leadership of the Party. Having experienced a rough childhood, Hitler developed fortitude which enabled him to become a robust leader. Through skillful speeches and violent intimidation he gained many followers. Unemployed workers and former soldiers, along with other dissatisfied people, joined his Nazi Party. From the beginning the Nazi party had always expressed hatred towards Jews. Hitler expressed this extreme hatred in his book Mein Kampf, which he wrote when he was jailed for an attempted coup d’état in 1923. This hatred drove Hitler to persecute the Jews, once he gained official control as chancellor of Germany in 1933.

Similar to Nazism and its revelation of the potential for human cruelty, Kay Boyle’s novels expose the horrors of human brutality toward others. Boyle’s stories are murder mysteries set in Europe. Each of the crimes is finally resolved as the person who was initially thought to be the killer is found innocent while the killer is identified as the least likely suspect. In her novel The Seagull on the Step, Boyle intentionally characterizes Dr. Angelo as an unlikely suspect. He was a wealthy and well respected doctor whom the community valued. Alternatively, Michel Vaillant is a member of the community who more often keeps to himself, his dedication to his work often isolates him from others. This isolation leads people to be suspicious of him. Boyle’s depiction of misleading appearances demonstrates her view of humanity’s potential to deceive. Ironically, individuals who are usually trusted end up being those who bring about more harm than good.

Major Works Consulted:

Boyle, Kay. Monday Night. New York: Appel, 1977.
---. The Seagull on the Step. New York: Knopf, 1955.
Evans, Richard. The Coming of the Third Reich. New York: Penguin, 2003.
Toland, John. Adolf Hitler. New York: Doubleday, 1954
Photo Credit: Boyle, Kay. Monday Night. New York: Appel, 1977.