The Truth about “Our Secret”
Susan Griffin’s main focus in her essay “Our Secret“ is on Heinrich Himmler’s life. She hopes to better understand how people come to be who they are as a product of childhood and adolescent experiences. Through this process she hopes her readers can become conscious to the truths of their upbringing and not only find their true identity, but have the strength and courage to change their destiny. Griffin is ultimately interested in finding her own identity but has been oppressed by her grandmother to not search inwardly. She therefore uses Himmler as a mask by examining what experiences shaped him as a child to understand what may have molded her. Griffin concentrates on connections between people, childhood, and objects to Heinrich Himmler’s life to better understand social and personal identity, and oppression. Although Griffin writes an excellent account on the connections and metaphors that define Himmler, she leaves the reader feeling lost and unfulfilled by her lack of connection to her own personal search for identity. By focusing on Heinrich Himmler’s oppressed childhood Griffin can more easily avoid the realities of her own. Griffin touches on her own oppression when she says “When at the age of six I went to live with her, my grandmother worked to reshape me. I learned what she thought was correct grammar. The manners she had studied in books of etiquette were passed on to me, not by casual example but through anxious memorization and drill” (307). Through this quote Griffin is proposing a connection between Himmler’s father, Gebhard’s, oppressive behavior and her grandmother’s. Griffin hopes to show a connection to modern day upbringing, that although it is not as off the wall as Dr. Schreber’s child rearing method, it is still extremely oppressive and unnecessary. This is a perfect example of the in home oppression that most children must endure and don’t even realize that it is happening to them. Griffin’s...
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