The deliberate flattening of the characters in King, Queen, Knave
undermines the credibility of the book's love triangle as if the text was, reflexively, mocking its own form.
Martha, a brittle ice-queen who lives in an austere villa in Berlin, does not love her husband, Dreyer, and seems incapable of loving anyone. As the flat card-like character she is, however, Martha, the "queen" enjoys the power to manipulate others. Martha views Franz, her nephew through marriage, as a pawn, and reflects that "he is warm, healthy young wax that one can manipulate and mold till its shape suits your pleasure" (31).
Martha does ultimately mold and seduce Franz to suit her pleasure, although Franz views the seduction differently. Franz see himself as the seducer and, in a sense, both he and Martha are
seducers, but as the playing cards they represent, neither one can see the other's "hand" to realize he/she has been duped as well.