Stupor is an introduction for the four last (and strange) chapters. Mann is preparing the end…and warns us that some characters we are now meeting, we see for the last time…
HC is still on his Mountain although we cannot understand why…
Peeperkorn and Joachim are dead.
Clawdia is gone
The teachings are over,
And strangest of all, Behrens thinks that Hans illness has nothing to do (anymore) with TBC…There is some blood taking without decisive outcome. There is no reason to stay on the Mountain.
Why is Hans idling away, wasting away his youth in that damn Sanatorium?
Hans has entered a state of “ Stupor”.
Stupor according to Wiki is the lack of critical cognitive function and level of consciousness wherein a sufferer is almost entirely unresponsive and only responds to base stimuli such as pain.
The narrator compares the stupor with a demon who has a hold on HC. “This is life without time, care or hope, life as a stagnating hustle-bustle of depravity, dead life”.
HC fills his time, as all the old timers do, with “fads”: photography, stamp collecting, chocolate tasting, mathematical games ( with endless and innumerable outcomes ), bogus business plans , to end with the worst of all…playing patience.
Our old friend Settembrini cannot belief his eyes. Hans even insults Settembrini with a “placet experiri”- remark while playing this stupid game.
Things are happening in the flatlands “ The world situation baffles me” Settembrini , who read papers, says. HC is not interested. Hans, we know, does not read papers.
The Great Stupor, both in HC mind as in the world down below, will come to no good, the narrator warns us. “The end will be a catastrophe, a thunderstorm and a great cleansing wind will break the spell and wrench life from its dead standstill and overturn the doldrums in a terrible Last Judgment…”