Momo is a modern fairytale in which the fight between good and evil and the contemporary society, in which because of the wish for material stability doesn’t give anyone time to take care of another person, is being shown. The novel is composed of three parts: the first one has 5 chapters, the second one 7 and the third one has nine. Every chapter has a subtitle.
The reader is firstly introduced to the verses of an Irish children song: “Twinkle, twinkle little star”. In the end there is an epilogue in which Michael Ende admits to have written the whole fairytale based on the memory of what a passenger in a train told him. It is assumed that the passenger could be Master Hora.
Ende wanted to show human’s faith in the modern society where time instead of money became the measurement for everything valuable. By reading it can be perceived that the more we save time, the less time we have.
The human in modern society is shown as a victim to his craving for success because of which he becomes estranged to feelings such as love. According to Ende, the modern world is a dark place in which emotions barely exist.
In the end, the author gives us a dream about a better future and breaks the darkness which can be noticed when Momo freed the time that was taken away from people. Sceneries never saw before occurred in the city; the children played and the drivers looked at them with a smile on their face. The plot is set in a country in the south and, since it is a fairytale, the time is unspecified.
Genre: fairytale novel
Place: it could be concluded it’s a town in Italy, but it isn’t specified anywhere
A semicircular theatre was placed between ruins in a town and it was thought to be the remains of an amphitheatre from the past. A girl named Momo lived there. The citizens had built her a sleeping space and brought her groceries every day.
They didn’t want to tell the police about her so she wouldn’t finish in foster care. On one occasion she said she ran away from a place like that and that she had no desire of going back there. They suggested her to move in with one of them but in the end they decided it would be best for Momo to stay in the theatre so everyone could spend some time with her.
With time the theatre became an it-place where everyone came to spend some time with the unusual girl. Momo knew how to listen to others and after talking to her, people would have a clear look at their situations. Even the people who were a bit uneducated would have bright ideas after talking to her. She was the middleman for people who were arguing.
Momo met a lot of friend and the closest to her were Gigi and Beppo. Gigi was a fun person that liked to invent stories and make people happy with them. When he would spend time with Momo, he would tell her the stories about a princess Momo and prince Gigi. Beppo cleaned the streets and he did his job with pride and dignity.
The theatre was visited by many children who would come there and invent new games. Everything changed when The Men in Grey came to town in grey suits, hats and cigarettes in their mouth. They were the agents from the Timesaving Bank and they would tell people how much time they’ve spent doing nothing and that the time has come for them to join their bank.
Their work wasn’t under any kind of observation and the weird thing was that no one remembered talking to them but they all followed their instructions and with time more and more people joined their bank.
People who worked and didn’t have time to do anything else were just piling up. A cold atmosphere ruled the town and people fought more with each day. Fewer children visited the theatre because their parents told them that only hobos gathered there.
They went to different kindergartens where they were thought the skills that will be useful in the future. The parents worked more so they would have more money to buy toys that would have no effect on the children’s imagination. Momo became lonely.
She managed to convince some of her friends that joined the bank to visit her and because of that one Man in Grey visited her. He tried to talk her into giving up on her friends.
He tried to convince her that she will damage her friends because the only important thing in life is to acquire more that the others and that friendship and love will come with time. As a replacement for her friends, he offered her a doll Babygirl.
Despite the fear that the grey people would leave behind them, Momo wasn’t afraid or able to be bought by a doll so she decided to investigate the emptiness the man had left behind him.
One of the agents accidentally spilled the truth and she found out that the time people had saved in the bank was forever lost. She told it to Beppo and Gigi and then to the other children. They decided to organize a protest by carrying banners that called everyone to give up their savings and come to a gathering where they’ll finally know the truth.
The same day Beppo fell asleep on the junkyard and accidentally became a witness in the trial of the agent BLW/553/c that said the truth in front of Momo. He was sentenced to death and when they took away his cigarette he disappeared. They also decided to deal with Momo.
Beppo rushed to the theatre to warn his friend. He came before the Man in Grey but Momo wasn’t there. Before Beppo came to the theatre a turtle carrying a sign “Follow me” appeared.
Momo found it weird that a turtle spoke to her but she followed her. When the agents showed up in the theatre and didn’t find the girl, they started a manhunt all over the city. The turtle was wiser and navigated Momo so carefully that the agents couldn’t follow her.
The whole time while they were walking messages appeared on the back of the turtle and she communicated with Momo. In the end, she took her to a part of the city where a street named “Never” and the house named “Nowhere” were.
It was the house of Master Hora, the master of time. The turtle was his accomplice and could predict the future half an hour ahead. Because of her gift, she was able to bring Momo to safe.
The master Hora ruled the time and divided it evenly so everyone would have enough. The thieves tried to reach him to steal it all away but they could never locate him.
Hora was a nice man that explained Momo that the Men in Grey want to harm her. He took her to a lake from which flowers emerged all the time. He explained that every flower is a clock and that the lake was actually her heart. It was actually a representation of what any human heart looks like because time represented life and life are placed inside the heart.
Hora placed her to sleep for a year and a half so that the words she needed to help her friends would appear inside of her. She didn’t see anyone in the city and the Men in Grey managed to isolate her from everyone.
Gigi worked as a storyteller and had a lot of money and another friend of hers opened a fast food restaurant so he had no time to spend with his family. A contractor spend more time building houses out of cheap, low-quality material just to make more money.
Beppo was convinced by others that Momo was held captive and that he has to save time in order to save her. The other kids ended up in special repositories in which they were being prepared to be like their parents one day. The Men in Grey held the city in their hands but Momo was still a threat so they kept her isolated from all of her friends.
The inconsolable Momo decided to go to Master Hora again but this time, she was followed by a group of agents. They kept their distance so they wouldn’t be exposed. Hora explained to Momo that the Men in Gray took pedals from the flowers, dried them, folded them and then used them in their cigarettes. That was their source of life.
More and more grey smoke appeared around Hora’s house and it built up a wall around it. Hora was able to send time to others only if the sky was clear but when it was filled with some there was a big possibility that the people will receive intoxicated time and become like the Men in Grey.
Because of that Hora decided to stop the time to give Momo a chance to discover where the agents were keeping the time they had stolen. When the time stopped the agents rushed to Hora’s house but when they realized the time has stopped they went to their shelter and started looking for cigarettes.
Despite everything being frozen, Momo managed to move around because Hora gave her a flower-clock. She decided to follow the Men in Grey. Only six of them remained and when they saw Momo they were desperately trying to get her flower. They disappeared one at a time a Momo had help from the turtle.
When the last agent disappeared Momo managed to free the time. With the help of a flower whirlpool, she managed to escape the underground labyrinth. She went back to the theatre where he friends waited for her. They were all happy like they used to be.
Characters: Momo, Beppo, Gigi, Master Hora, turtle, The Men in Grey
Momo – is the main character of the novel. She is a girl of unknown identity that appeared in the ruins of a theatre. The police had no record of her. She didn’t go to school and she spent her time listening to others that were a source of wisdom for her.
She is a girl with a special gift. Unlike others, she could listen to people that confided in her. She had many friends whom she loved more than anything. Momo represents an eternal child that only knows friendship and has a lot of time to play.
Gigi – was one of Momo’s friends. He was her second best friend and the real opposite of Beppo that worked like a garbage man. He was described as a handsome young man that told jokes and had a contagious smile. His real name was Girolamo.
He did several jobs and one of his favorites was entertaining the tourists and telling them stories. He thought his stories were more interesting than the history. The people thought his stories were entertaining but didn’t think it was okay for him to take money for made-up stories. Gigi justified himself with the excuse that all poets do that.
He wanted to be rich and the Men in Grey allowed him that if he gives them his soul. When he saw Momo after a year he admitted that the most dangerous dreams where the one that doesn’t come true in the end. He didn’t want to be poor without dreams, so he rather stayed in his comfortable hell.
Beppo – was Momo’s best friend. He was short and always walked a bit crouched. He talked little and only the truth. Beppo thought the biggest danger came from lies.
He cleaned the streets for so long that he created a life philosophy from it. He said it wasn’t good thinking about how long the street was so that people wouldn’t give up before the finish line.
After he had heard that the Men in Grey had Momo and that they’ll let her go if he saves 100 thousand hours Beppo believed them. When the time started again he and Momo were together and happy together.
The Men in Grey – were stranged beings that appeared in the town. They had hats and grey clothes. They smoked cigarettes and acted like advisors whose currency wasn’t money but time.
They attacked the citizens by scaring him with the calculations of their wasted time and they offered them the savings plan so they would have time later. They also offered everyone to join the Timesaving Bank.
They always had cigarettes because they kept them alive. They spent most of their time in their shelter.
The Men in Grey represent interest groups of influential companies that had the power to shape everyone’s life. Instead of names they have codes which show they were bland and that anyone who bows down to them will turn into them.
Cassiopeia – was a magical turtle that existed outside her time. She belonged to the Master Hora that, when he told Momo he’ll give her the flower to be able to work while everything was frozen, realized she didn’t need any of that because she existed outside of time.
She also had one more gift and that was seeing the future half an hour in advance. She was in the place she needed to be, even though she was slow. She talked to Momo via messages placed on her back. Thanks to Cassiopeia Momo beat the Men in Grey.
The Master Hora – had the duty to send time to everyone in need. He had to keep on doing that to win over the Men in Grey. Even though he never left his house, he had all seeing glasses that helped him to observe everything he wanted to know.
Michael Ende Biography
Michael Ende was a famous German writer who was born in 1929 in Bavaria. His father was a famous artist but in the World War II – his art was pronounced to be sick and twisted. After the big attack on Hamburg, Ende went to Munich.
He developed a love for literature and writing at an early age when he started writing poems and stories. He was very interested in theatre and he started working for the Theatre Academy in Munich after which he became a professional actor. He never got an important role or had a big career.
While he was traveling he began to write. He told he wrote his first novel impulsively, without a plan or an idea. The writing was an adventure for him. He experienced the adventures of his characters thru them.
His first book was a success. It was a children’s novel “Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver” and it brought him an award for the best children’s book in 1961. The book “Momo” was also a success and it was written in 1973 and he acquired world fame with “NeverEnding Story” in 1979.
The most expensive German movie in those times was a movie adaption of the previously mentioned book but the author called it tackily.
Some of his other famous works are: “The Spoilsport”, “A very short Fairytale”, “Mirror in the mirror”…
He died in 1995 from stomach cancer.