The Assualt - Views About Past and Present

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I.B. English 11 21, March 2011
World Literature Paper 2 – draft

In his novel The Assault, Harry Mulisch illustrates a clear example at how human memory can aid us in pursuing a better future ahead of us. As Anton watched the motor boats on the first page of the novel he was amazed at how fast the motor boats moved and the wake they left behind. Each time he saw them zoom by he would try to follow their wake however its pattern became so distorted he could not follow it. Along side the motor boats were the gondolas where they were propelled by the captain pushing a stick back thus moving his boat forward. He then takes this approach on life and lives while constantly bringing up his past. Every time he attempted to look at what the future held in store for him he was sent back towards looking at the past. By looking back and searching for his past he was able to progress into the future without feeling the unbearable light of the future. Mulisch uses an extensive amount of light and dark metaphors, and structure in order to show us that if we desire to progress through a less painful life we should reflect upon our past before we look too far ahead into the future.

Mulisch structured his novel in such a way that the reader can unmistakably understand the past form the present. In the very beginning of the book Anton and his family are going about their lives however there is not a single trace of light. Mulisch makes this point very clear for everyone is turning out there lights in case of a bombing run. In addition he writes that all was dark as the murder was committed and peter took the carbon lamp. These had all happened in the past and therefore Mulisch is stating the past is dark. As the reader reaches the end of the book and the final scene is of Anton walking away in the middle of the day, when the sun is the highest, we conclude that the present is light. This juxtaposition is further backed by the chapter structure Mulisch chose to...
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