History Fiftieth Gate

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History can be defined as “the methodical record of public events” where memory is

defined as “the faculty by which events are recalled or kept in mind”. Thus history

and memory interrelate as history can be seen as the contextual justification for

memory. “The Fiftieth Gate” is a poignant interweaving of history and memory.

The text follows protagonist, Mark Baker an historian, son of Holocaust survivors

Genia and Yossl (Joe), on an historical journey through memory, to uncover the

origins of his past and act as a catalyst for future generations to also connect with

their history. Mark Baker’s journey through history and memory is also executed

through his conventional ideas that memory is biased and less valid than history.

There are numerous references to the discrepancies between the personal memories

of his parents and the documented history Mark as an historian believes. In this way

it is apparent that Mark is on a quest for verification, “my facts from the past are

different”. This displays the flaw Mark traditionally notes in memory and his need for

historical evidence.

As responders accompany Mark on his journey, they also encounter the complexity

of simultaneously being a son and an historian. This attested via the following when

Mark collates his parent’s memories with documented historical evidence “His was

a past written on a page…mother couldn’t point to anyone”. This quote represents

the way Mark requires documented evidence, history. This is because he believed

his father’s memories only when had had evidence and didn’t believe his mother as

she was the sole survivor in the town and could not provide documented evidence to

verify her memories. As the text progresses, Mark does discover testimony of an SS

soldier that justified her account, “found something at last… it’s...
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