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Holocaust Literature - Essay Example

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Grossman’s novel consists of four parts, first of which tells a story of a child whose live goes on surrounded by the survivors of Holocaust. A little, nine-year-old boy attempts to understand the past, or rather to restore the picture of the past which is not accessible to him…
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Download file to see previous pages His family members and other adults around are keeping the pact of silence, and the boy constantly has a feeling that something happened in the recent past which united all the adults in this unspoken pact of silence. He can not spot even the place where this unspoken past is hidden: his family refers to the lands they came from as “Over There” – “a place you weren’t supposed to talk about too much” (Grossman, 13) Despite the silence regarding what happened “Over There”, the presence of that “Over There” is felt by the young boy, and the world around him seems to be saturated by the consequences of this unknown past. The characters of people around him are directly influenced by something that happened in the unspoken past. A woman in the neighborhood, whom Momik used to hate, proved to be a victim of those circumstances. Momik finds out that she “never dreamed when she was born that this is how she would end up”, just like many others. (Grossman, 15) But to uncover those events that changed this woman so much is not only impossible – it is dangerous. (Grossman, 16) The enduring presence of the past in the Momik’s imagination is manifested by his conceptualization of the numbers that he saw on the arms of his family members. He tried to wash away such number on the arm of his newly found Grandfather but the number would just not go away. Momik imagined that this number was not written from outside but from inside. The overwhelming presence of the secret past made Momik see the manifestations of this past as intrinsic, as something that can not go away, but became part of those who went through that past. In order to restore the picture, he tries to put together all the multiple events and facts that happen around him. He is using his imagination to reconstruct the story of the past in the fictional way. He goes around his Grandfather at home, and realizes that Grandfather is trying to tell a story – just like his late Grandmother did. He manages to find out that Grandfather’s daughter and wife were killed “Over There”. But Momik’s parents keep trying to distract Momik from his efforts. Moreover, his parents are afraid that older people, like his Grandfather, do not control their minds and speech completely and would say something that no one wants to think about. When Momik tried to speak about his discoveries about Grandfather to Bela, she immediately tried to suppress the memories that such a story could have brought and normalize the situation by bringing Momik and herself back to the present-day problems: “now, you are pale and scrawny, a real little fertel, how will they ever take you into the army”. The strategy of escape from contemplating on the past was used by many adults, and Momik became an infant terrible, who disturbs the adults with questions that everyone prefers to avoid asking or thinking about. Therefore, after the conversation between Momik and Bela, she was “glad to hear he’s stopped thinking about ‘Over There’”. (Grossman, 20-21) Momik, as a young but talented child, did not miss that fact that overall silence of the adults – their “secrecy in the kingdom” – implied certain rules, and one of them was to abstain from expressing any emotions, whether about the past or the present. In this setting, Aunt Idka seemed to contrast other adults in the secret pact. Momik described her as “different from Mama and Papa”, a very cheerful person. It is not surprising then that Aunt Idka once told Momik’s mother: “What harm is there in a little laughter” – as if she was apologizing for the fact she publicly displays positive emotions. The pattern of silencing we saw in the Grossman’s novel is somewhat reminiscent of the way characters are trying ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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