The Second World War, lasting from 1939-1945 has had a lasting impact on the world. For some, more negative than others, it is simply a marvel how such a horrific event can potentially lead to equally bright new happenings. In the book Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, the main character and narrator, Jakob, was serendipitously physically saved from the way by the Greek scientist Athos Roussos. Over time, Jakob grew into a person who could only be defined through true silence, which was seen in his relationship with Athos, his romantic links, and his connection with geographic locations and languages. It is in these ties of Jakob’s life the only language he is fluent in is evident: silence.
When Athos first starts taking care of Jakob, he notes that “sometimes I can’t look you in the eye; you’re like a building burned out inside, outer walls still standing” (p. 30). Through this metaphor, Athos tells Jakob how all of the tragedy that has surrounded him leaves him with mere silence inside. All the things that have happened to Jakob leave nothing to say, because the tragedy wipes away all of the emotions. Before the Holocaust, the insides of Jakob, his heart and soul, are filled with of Bella, his parents, and his best friend, Mones. The war wipes out that of which his insides consist of, leaving him only physically alive. Inside, he is empty, and when there is emptiness, there is always silence. When Jakob is a teenager, he tells the reader that “it was [Athos’s] touch that kept me from falling into myself too far” (p. 60). Jakob lives in this silence for as long as he has been living with Athos, since he lost his parents. Jakob tells the reader, in this citation, that that only thing saving him from complete gloom and silence was the “touch”, symbolically meaning the support, love, and care of Athos. Athos simultaneously offers Jakob unconscious understanding. “Our secrets will be our courage when we need it” (p. 116), Athos tells Jakob, implying that this is...
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