Institution Professor Date The novel “Assault” by Harry Mulisch Harry Mulisch’s great novel, “The assault” is a fictional thriller that happens during the European times. Mulisch is a brilliant author and Assault is a war related, historical and philosophical book that weaves around the history of European times of 1945 and 1982…
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One evening in Harlem, “in the silence that was Holland then, six shots were hard.” Fake Ploeg, “Chief Inspector of Police, the greatest murderer and traitor in Haarlem”.( pg 13). Chief inspector Ploeg a collaborator of the Germans is found dead outside a home. In anger and retaliation, the Germans burn the house where his body is found . This is Steenwijk’s home and they are wound up and killed. Anton is taken by one of the police officers and put in a car and forgotten there for a while. This essay highlights the capability of the characters to live with the consequences of the tragedy and effects of others peoples’ deeds. It is about how the life of a young boy, Anton Steenwijk, changes after the death of his family after their demise by the Nazis. He gets little bits of information about the happenings of the fateful day until he gets the full picture of what really happened. He gets to be an active autonomous agent by looking back and telling his story by reliving and piecing information that he gets. Mr. and Mrs. Bemure get to retell their story to Anton. Most of the other characters do not get the chance to lay out their story. Twelve year old Anton, is taken up to live with his aunt and uncle in Amsterdam during his teenage years after the second world war. Anton lives through life with the scars of death on his mind and occurrences in his everyday life cause him to want to know the truth. Anton tells of his story in episodes. He meets up the people involved in the killings directly and indirectly and eventually knows the truth about what exactly happened. Anton knows it is up to him to know what went down that tragic night and in his day to day life. For a big part of his life, he has tried to shun off and suppress the memories of the night but just when he starts to forget, his past brings reshow’s and he bumps into the people involved in his family’s death. This makes it impossible to shut off his past from himself. He realizes that he cannot make it in erasing the scars of his past. He knows it is his responsibility to uncover the truth of that life changing night. As the remaining member of that family he bears the burden solely. In 1952, after the war, he goes back home to where their home once stood. And the years onward bring with them chance of knowing what transpired that inauspicious night. He meets people from his past, people he knew and others he had never known before. He gets an opportunity to ask them what really happened and their involvement of family’s death. The main theme of this novel is to embrace the past into the present by incorporating them so to bring out a different character from the beginning. It involves the development of the protagonist, Anton through events that have changed his life. His story through life is like that one of a “sailor sailing to the future by sailing backward”. The theme of guilt and innocence weaves around the actions of the people who find the inspectors Ploeg’s body outside their home. Mr. korteweg and his daughter move the body not to outside Aarts, (who were hiding a Jewish family) house but little Anton’s home. Although it is natural to assume that he did this to protect his family, you realize that was not the case. It is absurd that he was trying to save his lizards and finally he commits suicide, for he could not bear the fact that he contributed to the death of a family just to save his little
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The war became a part of life in all aspects – military, civil, academic, social, political as well as academic. A number of literati have expressed themselves over the war and its impacts but perhaps one of the best works so far in this context has been Harry Mulisch’s “The Assault”.
The writing manner of the author is worth-discussing and worth-studying. The main characters’ decisiveness, strength, emotional stability and purity of mind inspire readers due to the author’s outstanding writing manner. The character of Anton Steenwijk's and episodes of his life are described by Mulisch.
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