The novel "Conrad: The Factory made boy"shows the relationship between grownups and kids in a funny and witty way. All of the characters are described realistically with their flaws and virtues. The grownups aren't always the smartest and wisest event hough they want to seem that way. Most of the time the kids have better solutions and ideas than their parents.
The novel is about a perfectly raised child made in a factory. He was delivered by mistake to the eccentric Berta Bartolotti that isn't responsible enough to be a mother but she is ready to do anything for her new son. When the factory realizes their mistake they try to take Conrad away by force and give him to another family but Berta does not allow it. Kitty, her neighbor, helps her in protecting her son. She was Conrad's only friend and she was very understanding of his strange behavior. Also they receive the help from Egon, Conrad's father and Berta's friend.
All of the characters are different from one another and they learn a lot from each other. Their differences is what helps them cooperate so well. Conrad's parents are completely different: Egon is a bit stuffy and always follows the rules and appreciates good behavior while Berta considers all of that to be boring. In the end Egon is the one trying to break the rules and allows Conrad's behavior in order to keep him. Conrad and Kitty are also very different: Conrad is well behaved and never even thinks about breaking the rules but Kitty shows him that sometimes breaking the rules is a necessity.
The novel starts one morning in Berta's house. After a big breakfast she orders herself to take care of the dishes and get to work. She talks to herself and refers to herself as “dear child” like her mother used to do. Her husband also calls her like that because it's the only way she'll listen to him. Her mother died a long time ago and her husband left for some unknown reason.
She couldn't bathe in the tub because she had gold fishes there. She placed them in the tub so they wouldn't have to spend their life in a small glass bowl. She couldn't open the shower cabin because she placed her laundry rope from the window to the doors of the shower cabin to the window. In the end she decided to wash herself chemically – she took her makeup down and placed more on herself. The makeup was consisted of bright and warm colors. Berta had old and young days and that day she perceived herself as young. She never spoke of her actual age.
She made carpets for life. She had accompany named Barlotty & Company but she actually did all of the work herself. Her carpets were beautiful and very expensive.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays Berta hung out with the 55 years old pharmacist Egon. Once a week she visited him and the other way around. After the visits they would go to the theatre or cinema and then they'd have diner. Other days of the week they didn't talks to each other. If they would have an encounter they would refer to one another as “mister magister” and “misses”
Somebody rand long on Berta's door. The delivery boy brought her a package wrapped in white. It was very heavy and Berta didn't know what she had ordered. She had a problem with ordering things she didn't actually need just because they were on discount.
She opened a package where she found a note of apology because they package was delivered too late and a warning that she can't return the package if she opens it. Below a mister Hunbert, Honbert or Monbert was signed. The signature was hard to read so she didn't actually know whose name was it. She took a big can from the package and she thought it was food so she opened it. A voice was heard from the can that said "good day dear mother" and Berta saw a small dwarf inside of it. He told her to spill a fluid that was in the package as well because he can't survive on fresh air without it. When Berta did it the dwarf turned to a seven years old boy that gave her hi papers: birth certificate, certificate of citizenship and certificates of him medical history. On the birth certificate it as stated that his father was Conrad August Bartolotti and Berta concluded that her husband wanted a boy so he ordered Conrad, but it wasn't the truth.
Berta went to the city to buy Conrad some clothes, a bed and candy. The clothes were colorful, glittery and full of decorations because Berta enjoyed being different from the others. Conrad looked out the window and saw boys wearing different clothes but he didn't ask his mom to buy him something new. He humbly accepted the clothes she had bought for him. Berta offered him ice cream but he started asking her whether ice creams should be eaten for dessert in the summer. Berta didn't know any ruled about ice cream eating so Conrad told her he will not eat it until she doesn't find out more about it.
Egon came to Berta's house because it was Saturday, the day they hung out. She introduced him to Conrad and she refer to him as her son. Egon was thrilled with his obedience, behavior and intelligence. Berta gave Conrad a candy but he knew he wasn't supposed to eat candy before bedtime and it made him sad. He mentioned that on the department of final treatment they had hours of guilt and every child had to master it in order to leave the factory. He did not speak of the factory anymore because he wasn't supposed to. It was allowed to speak of it only in case of emergency.
Egon considered that Conrad needed a father immediately and he wanted to take that role. Conrad agreed with it but Berta wasn't very thrilled about it because she considered Egon to be boring. Egon decided that Conrad should enroll into a school. On Sunday Berta visited her neighbors that had a daughter Kitty. She went to the first grade so she borrowed her books to prepare Conrad for his first day. Kitty's parents were surprised that Berta had a son.
Kitty wanted to see her son so her mother allowed her to visit him that afternoon and take her books to him. Egon was also there because he wanted to study with his son and later they went for a walk. When Kitty came to Berta's apartment Conrad was still taking his walk so he didn't meet him.
On Monday Berta took Conrad to school but he wanted to go to the third grade because he would be bored in the first and second. Berta was concerned about his desires because he never went to school and it was impossible to enroll him into the third grade. He gave her a certificate from the "German School in Congo". On the blank spaces he wrote that he finished the second grade and that he was ready to go to the third grade. Berta asked him is that true and he said he had never been to that school but that the factory was a branch of the German school.
Egon and the two of them went to the school. The lady that took care of the new students was amazed with Conrad's certificate so she agreed to let him go to the third grade even though the enrollment was due a month ago. At 12 o'clock sharp Egon and Berta came to pick up Conrad. He met Kitty and she invited him to attend her birthday party at three o'clock.
Conrad went to the birthday and there were Florian and Gitty from his class and some friends from Kitty's class. Florian was a big boy, taller than Conrad and he picked on him. Anton, from Kitty's class, was jealous of Conrad because Kitty defended him. All of the kids played various games but Conrad was the best at all of them. Anton and Florian were very jealous of him. In the end Kitty and Conrad played mommy and daddy while others threw walnut shells on them. Florian blamed Conrad for being bored at the party so he punched in the stomach. Conrad didn't fight back but Kitty did. When everyone left Kitty told Conrad she loved him.
Later Egon came to Berta's place and started to fuss about her educational methods and said that Conrad should live with him. Conrad loved Egon and Berta but he decided to stay with his mommy because that way he'll also be closer to Kitty.
Three weeks passed from Conrad's arrival to Berta and he spent a lot of time with Kitty. Since they weren't in the same class Kitty had to go home alone on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Florian was afraid of Kitty but when she wasn't around he picked on Conrad and punched him. Other kids also disliked Conrad because he was the teacher's favorite. She even named him her substitute so he had to keep the order in the classroom when the teacher wasn't around. The kids had to obey because if they didn't Conrad would have to write down their names. Kitty tried to explain to Conrad that he shouldn't tell on his friends but he couldn't help himself since they thought them differently in the factory.
One dayBerta got a letter from the factory and she didn't want to open it because she had a bad feeling about it but Kitty convinced her to open it. The letter stated that she had to return Conrad because there has been a mistake. Berta didn't even order him, she ordered something else that wasn't even produced in the factory anymore. Berta didn't want to take him back so she started to think of ways to keep him with Kitty. They decided to roll Conrad into a carpet and take him to Egon's place. He lived above him pharmacy. Kitty told her parents she's taking the carpet to the drycleaners with Berta and when they asked her why isn't Conrad helping her she said that nobody can find him and that she'll find out more from Berta. Berta and Kitty took Conrad to Egon's place and decided to reeducate him so that the factory wouldn't want him back.
Berta was visited by a skinny man in a light blue suit. He was looking for Conrad. She lied that he left three days ago and that she never wanted him anyway. Kitty was reeducating Conrad in the meantime. She thought him some vulgar words and bad behavior. She lied to her mother that she was teaching one of her friends math. The next morning three men visited Berta and she didn't want to open them. They got in through the window. She told them that Conrad had left 4 days ago but they claimed to have seen his homework that had yesterday's date on it so they didn't believe her.
Berta went to Egon's pharmacy and noticed 7 people dressed in light blue. They went into the pharmacy and ordered a rare medicine that took two hours to prepare. They decided to wait and they stood in front of the pharmacy. They started calling Conrad and he was supposed to answer because he was well behaved. He didn't do it because Kitty managed to reeducate him. He went down the fence and kicked a lady that was waiting for him and started singing inappropriate songs. The married couple was repulsed by his behavior because they wanted a well behaved son. Kitty and Conrad started throwing pudding and spinach everywhere. The married couple left the pharmacy and said they'll rather get a dog. The Owner of the factory left with his men and left Conrad with his family.
Time: October/November 1974
Characters: Conrad, Berta, Egon, Kitty
Conrad - seven years old boy made in a factory that specialized in producing well behaved children. Because of his origins he wasn't used to being around people and he didn't get along fine with them. He also didn't know how to defend himself from violence. Conrad was used to obedience and following the rules but out of love for his family he decides to break the rules and misbehave. He is humble, smart and accepted peoples differences.
Berta Bartolotti - a special lady that his her years, looked and acted eccentric. She didn't care much for other people's opinions and she didn't like to follow the rules but she was capable of doing anything for her loved ones. She made carpets for life but she wasn't materialistic so she only did them if necessary. She considered a lot of people to be boring because they didn't stand out from others but she accepted everyone that wasn't evil. Evilness was one thing she could tolerate or understand.
Egon - pharmacist and Berta's friend whose life was work and nothing else until he takes on the responsibility of being Conrad's father. He appreciated intelligence and considered education to be crucial and he took his parenting role very seriously. He lived by the rules and Berta considered that to be boring, but he always had the best intentions. Berta and Egon were to different people and their differences attracted each other. They were the perfect parents for Conrad.
Kitty - a seven years old girl. She was Berta's neighbor and Conrad's friend. She was well behaved, smart and protective of Conrad that didn't know how to defend himself. She even lied and plotted in order to protect him. She was resourceful and brave.
Christine Nöstlinger biography
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