Boll symbolically portrays absence of love as material poverty and lack of food in Hans's life. The main character of the novel, Hans Schneir belongs to a wealthy family and establishes romantic relations with Marie, a young student. Thus, as soon as Marie abandoned him and he lost his love, he falls into poverty and start drinking. Thus, in defining himself as an artist, Hans comes to reembrace life, if only as the raw material of art. "If you love one man, surely you can only mean your own" (Boll 201). In this scene, however, material reality is no longer embodied in the sexualized, female body of a girl he loves (Habermas 317).
Boll argues that love, similar to food, 'is for sale' (Boll 10). Love is a commodity which has its unique value and available for mass society. Through negative and positive examples Boll unveils that love is shown to be commodity and a gift dispenser. The form of the novel is, however, not only determined by the conception of love as a commodity for private consumption; it is a result also of the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie in the presence of art, and is for this reason the art form least like art. Boll portrays that as practical men, the new middle classes found love frivolous; as pious ones, they found it idolatrous; as class-conscious citizens, they felt it too committed to mass culture and consumerism (Pearce 15). They demanded a form that would be really their own, a mass-produced commodity to be bought or rented in the marketplace like other goods, a thick and substantial item to be placed on the table with other evidences of their wealth and taste (Paslick 670). Boll states: "If our era deserves a name it would have to be called the era of prostitution. People are being accustomed to the vocabulary of whores" (242). Love like food is mass-produced; it is also mass-circulated like any commodity in an expanding mercantile economy. Like other mass-produced products, love tends to drive out of existence craft objects (Nemoto 301).
Love is depicted as a source of energy but also it has destroying force. Boll, though experts on indignity and assault, on loneliness and terror, tends to avoid treating the passionate encounter of a man and woman. Symbols of absence of love and poverty are depicted as the enemy of society on the run toward "freedom" and also the pariah in flight from his guilt (Kennedy and Gioia 29). The novel is the example of "mass love" available for all. It is quite different from pure relations and feelings with its hand-made appearance and its air of knowing its place; it changes slowly and almost imperceptibly, its chief appeal being its resemblance to what has come before (Grass 10). "Mass love" on the other hand, is urban, changing with the rapid changes of fashion, and seeming as much the product of new advances in technique as of any profound shift in the imagination (Stobaugh 23). Although seeking authenticity and purpose in love, Hans Schneir is humiliated by deceit; he becomes ashamed of his unchecked passion and paralyzed with maternal guilt. "Love. Love. Love. I went into the kitchen, cut myself some bread, spread butter on it and went into the living room" (Boll 172).
The love plunges Hans into a world of poverty and hardship, a world where men vie with one another for the scarce resources necessary to survival. Search for food