The novel “Olfi Obermeier” isn’t only meant for younger reader even though it seems so from its theme and the main character. The content and point of the novel are honesty and authority.
Olfi, a young fourteen years old, lives in his home with seven women, puts up with their authority and adapts to them but not for long. His path is hard. Olfi found and met his father. After putting up resistance against the rules imposed on him by the women he lives with he wins. Olfi lives with his mother, two sisters, grandmother, her sister and two aunts.
The culmination of the work starts with Olfi reading an article in a psychological magazine about an interesting hypothesis: kids raised by man have a higher IQ than those raised by women. He was led by this thought when he starts looking for his father and he gets himself in a lot of trouble in his journey.
The novel almost categorizes the taboo in the children’s and youth’s literature starting from parental physical and emotional abuse all the way to children getting their way by emotional blackmail. The author questions the problems of an incomplete family, rejection of the school authority and she does it with a dose of humor without diminishing the real problem of the story which, at first, seems too demanding for a young reader. The author doesn’t underestimate younger audience’s capability to read and understand the work. This teenager’s search for his father is also an identity search which is typical four youth novels.
The main character is rebelling against his surroundings because he isn’t capable of adjusting to everything. His escape was the solitude of his room in which he listened to loud music while thinking about his problems.
This theme made the novel well accepted in younger audience because it covers the problem which most adolescents have. Olfi fights against authority by walking away and not listening to his mother, grandmother and aunts. He rejected the intentions of fixing his family relationships and situation in school because those intentions were based on authority, blackmail and threats.
All of those things get fixed and problems get solved by honesty. Finally, alongside teenage problems and identity search, love comes and Olfi tried it and it led him to the end of his search and adventure.
Time: the present
Olfi was in math class not paying attention to the teacher and think of good arguments against the seven women he lived with. They were his mother, grandmother and her sister, aunt Fee and Truedrel and Liesrl and two sisters Doris and Andrea. Even though he wasn’t prone to paying attention in math because he didn’t like it he found something interesting to do. He was reading a magazine in which he read an article about children who were raised by men having a higher IQ. He found the article interesting because he was going thourgh some troubles in school – his grades were low and he was uninterested when it came to studying.
He tried to solve his crisis so he printed out the article several times and placed it all over his house and other household members reacted to it. They asked him about it and he said that the article was an answer to his crisis. They guessed, asked questions and got annoying so Olfi shut down their debate by a scream. It was always his last and efficient way out. He threatened them not to take his copies off of the walls and went to school.
Olfi went out with his two friends and both of them had girlfriends. There was a girl sitting behind Olfi and she didn’t hide her crush on him. Since Olfi was compassionate towards women and their feelings he agreed to be in a “relationship” with the girl.
After his friends’ relationships fell apart he decided to end his but it took him sometime and he didn’t know how to break up with her. He even asked one of his friends to help him and told everything to his sisters but no one was helpful.
One night Olfi found out some things while he was eavesdropping on his sisters’ conversation. They were talking about his act of putting up needless sentences and articles around the house. They talked about Oedipus complex and thought Olfi was a homosexual. When he heard that world he startled and his sisters heard him. He ran to the bathroom, sat on the bathtub for a while and then he put his aunt’s robe and makeup on. He got into the role of the homosexual in the house.
When he got out of the bathroom he went to the living room to get a book and read about Oedipus complex. When he read the explanation of the term he started brainstorming about it. He sneaked out of the house to see his friend. His friend gave him an opinion about the whole situation. Olfi went back to his house, got into bed and started contemplating about his math test. He didn’t want to take the test, see his “girlfriend” and he decided to pretend to be ill in order to avoid school for at least a week.
During his time at home he started thinking about how no one has ever said a word about his father. He always pictured him as a motorcyclist on a big expensive bike and that’s all. He never thought his father could be dead because no one ever said he was and it didn’t seem like the rest of his family knew a lot about him. His mother never gave serious responses to the subject and she would make him lose desire to talk about him.
Olfi decided to get the answers by going through his mother’s things. There was a drawer she always locked and he thought he could find something in there. After unlocking it he found his mother’s diaries in which she mostly wrote about her own worries. Olfi found some information about his father. His name was Joannes, he had a wife and kid and studied for years.
His search for his father begins with change. He started studying often and he spent the rest of his time at Muxeneder. After reading his mother’s diaries he thought that Johannes worked there. Olfi always saw Joschi there, a girl with big brown eyes and a perky nose with a few freckles. She would read magazines and smoke an occasional cigarette.
They started talking and realized they got along great. Since she seemed as a smart, interesting and different he decided to tell her all about his problems: Oedipus complex, alleged homosexuality, diaries… She told him she knew Johannes’s son and that one of her friends used to date him. She promised to ask around. When she was leaving, she kissed his cheek and his “girlfriend” saw it. She got jealous and wanted to get her revenge.
Another fight broke out in his house. Olfi got into a fight with his mother and grandmother because they didn’t understand he was waiting for a call. After sometime Joschi called him and asked if they could meet. He told her she can drop by. All the women in his house tried to eavesdrop on their conversation and Olfi was going crazy. Also, his friend started coming on to Joschi and he invited her to a party. Joschi told him about her findings. Johannes Muller was allegedly an older man who would changes lover all the time and when his wife and boss had a problem with his behavior she asked for a divorce. He then went to Greece where he worked as a waiter during the summer and his whereabouts in the winter are unknown. After many years he came back and became a translator for Greek workers and he represented them in court and negotiated in their behalf. Two years ago he got tired of his job and went to live in another smaller town where he still worked a bit as a translator. His son visited him every now and then. Joschin’s friend was there once and she, as well as Johannes Junior, thought Johannes Senior was a bit strange. Olfi pictured his father differently but he still wasn’t disappointed. His aunts interrupted their talk so they went to the party Olfi’s friend mentioned.
The party was a complete disaster. The naïve and inexperienced teenagers got drunk from a few shots and high from a few smokes and everything just went wrong. They destroyed the flowers around the house, puked into the pull…
Olfi’s jealous girlfriend told everyone Joschi was a drug addict. When Olfi’s family found out about it he got into troubles. In the meantime Joschi was at the door. She wanted to talk to someone because she had no one. She told him all about her abusive father and small allowance. Joschi told him she can’t go home anymore and that Olfi’s mother, who was a lawyer, could help. His mother didn’t even listen to him and she turned him down.
Olfi and Joschi decided to run away from seven women and an abusive father. They went outside of Wien to check if they actually found Olfi’s father Johannes. Olfi threw a message through his friends window and they left.
They had to make a few train stops and in the train they met a woman who knew another girl who lived near the city in which his father lived. They lied about their identities. They stated they were siblings on their way to visit their grandmother for her birthday. Their alleged grandmother was staying with their uncle Muller.
The girl gave them a life and left them near a bar where Muller used to drink. When they entered Joschi went to the bathroom and Olfi approached a man whose face lines reminded him of someone. He introduced himself but the man didn’t pay much attention to him. He asked him was he here because of him and Olfi nodded his head. They went looking for Joschi who got lost to give them some space but they managed to find her and then they all went to Johannes’s house.
Johannes’s home was different because he had some strange habits to which Joschi and Olfi weren’t used to. He told them his story about Olfi’s mother and he thought she might have said something to Olfi about him but he was wrong. They told him all about their runaway, Joschi’s abusive father and Muller wasn’t too enthusiastic about their story.
He made Olfi call his mother but he threw the phone right back to him. Johannes had no other choice but to call her himself and explain everything. His mother came to take him home but he rejected. She was also furious about him going through her stuff without permission. Olfi told her he didn’t runaway because he hated it at home but because Joschi was in a very bad situation. Olfi said he wasn’t leaving until his mother does everything in her power to help Joschi. His mother was a lawyer but she argued that he was overestimating her possibilities. She didn’t know what to do and they Olfi told her if she wasn’t going to do anything she should forget about him. Olfi went crazy when his mother starting talking about laws and regulation. In the end she caved in and promised to call her friend who was a social worker. Johannes told her everything he knew about Joschi’s story and she was outraged. Olfi’s mother decided to keep the children in Johannes’s house until she and Johannes didn’t pay a visit to Joschi’s father.
The two of them talked all night and he comforted her by talking about nicer things. They spent two and a half days in the house when Johannes and Olfi’s mother appeared. The mother was happy because they managed to solve everything. She forced Joschi’s father to give her into a home by threatening him to report him to the police and tell the whole story to the press. Since her father watched out for what people say about him it didn’t take him long to cave in. Also, Olfi’s mother managed to fix Joschi’s problems with cutting class.
All of them went back to the city, dropped Joschi off in her new home, which wasn’t far away from their house, and on the way back Olfi’s mother asked him if his wishes were granted and if he was staying at home. Olfi promised her she can count on him sticking around and she was finally satisfied.
Even though Olfi met his father, his sisters didn’t have a strange reaction and they were angry because their mother always went easy on him. He finally saw happiness around him. Despites till living with seven women he was happy to have Joschi. He wanted her by his side and he wanted to fly a rocket with her to the Moon so that they could sit on the side not overlooking the Earth and just enjoy.
Characters: Olfi, Joschi, Johannes, Olfi’s mother, grandmother and her sister, Olfi’s sisters and aunts, Joschi’s father, Olfi’s friend Axel
Olfi was a bright, rebellious teenager. He was never the center of attention. His school success was average, he had some emotional problems, he was indecisive and solved his problems by postponing them. What makes him worth of our attention and what in general makes him a typical character is his capability to, at any given time, make the right decision and take matters into his own hands. He was ready to break rules in order to get what he wants.
Joschi had big brown eyes and freckles on her nose. She loved running away from problems at home and school. She would always read magazines and smokes. Joschi respected Olfi’s loyalty. She lived in a problematic family. Her father was abusive and her mother didn’t care much for it. Her family was also financially instable and they had many problems because of it. She was, much like Olfi, struggling with emotional issues.
Axel was Olfi’s smart and wise friend. He loved to read and he always spent his nights alone. He often responded in wise and symbolic answers. He studied psychology and quoted many psychologists and philosophers. He lived near Olfi and he would often sneak up on him when he needed answers for his doubts.
Olfi’s mother was a middle aged woman who wasn’t very mature in her youth and she paid the consequences. Despite imposing her authority on Olfi she cracked under the pressure and did what he wanted to just to please him and get him back home. She didn’t understand him very well but she was also misunderstood when she was his age. She ran away from her problems and preferred to write down her problems than to talk about them.
Christine Nöstlinger Biography
Christine Nöstlinger was born in 1936 in Wien.
She went to an academy and she worked in an Austrian paper. She has written many children books: “Ein Mann für Mama”, “Fiery Frederica”, “Dschi-Dsche-i-Dschunior”, “Der gefrorene Prinz”…
She received an award for her work and also the Hans Christian Andersen award. She is one of the best children’s writer on the German speaking area.
She writes in a very funny way about serious subjects such as family relations, school, education, friendship and human weaknesses that she accepts and does not judge.
Conrad the main character of this novel also says: “All people are different and that is the reason why we have to have understanding for the ones close to us.” The author places her characters in everyday life situations that are familiar to everyone and that is the reason why younger and older audience appreciates her.