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"Keller originates from Vienna, where he was a renowned musician "becoming so visible so that nothing can touch him", therefore believing he is exempt from the effects of war. Eventually he lost his wife and son and disappeared from the country, leaving every-one to believe he was dead. Filled with remorse and regret, Keller transforms and evolves to become a completely different man, "if we are discussing the same man how different our two versions." Keller understands the frivolities and foolish nature of human society, passed onto Paul in the form of clippings from newspapers, Keller's "textbooks." "The thousands of stories of human foolishness and greed and cruelty that he had tried to patch together into some kind of understanding of his fellow beings" depicts Keller's knowledge.
When Paul initially began lessons with Keller, his first impressions were misleading, "a boozers incandescent glow", "I'd seen nothing like him before." As Paul matures, his attitudes towards the Maestro become warmer and they develop an unexpressed bond. "I slipped my arm beneath his head and kissed him" represent Paul's final realisation of his connection with Keller in death. Throughout his life, Paul took the Maestro for granted, believing his advice was "irritating – and also contradictory." After Keller's death, Paul realises the opportunities Keller had presented him. "Mourning for a great man, yes, but also mourning for myself – for times and possibilities that will never come again." Throughout the novella the tone shifts from egotism and selfishness to regret and wisdom depicting Paul's growth."