What Remains (novella)

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What Remains (German: Was Bleibt) is a novella written by Christa Wolf. It was written in 1979 but was not published until 1990, after the Berlin Wall fell.


It is the story of a day in the life of an East German woman whose apartment and occupational activity are openly watched by the Stasi. The story raises the subject of surveillance, particularly the feeling of paranoia, self-doubt, and the disturbances it causes in everyday life; symptoms of fear and nervousness, such as unrest, sleeplessness, weight-loss, and hair-loss. No conversation can be held within her apartment without the telephone jack being pulled to prevent from having unwanted listeners. Telephone calls are a facade, where only code words and petty banter take place. As a first-person narrative the reader is transported into her inner monologue and introspection. In the end of the story she was very much influenced by her listeners who where school children & they interpreted it very positively that although today is a bad day or darker one but tomorrow or day after tomorrow it will be more shiner or blissful.