The German Refugee

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Mel Carter

In “ The German Refugee” by Bernard Malamud, we have character named Oskar Gasnerr, who is a German- Jewish refugee, escaping from German Nazis and comes to America, where he has no kins and he can not speak the English language properly. He is supposed to give a lecture in English, which is too hard for him to do. Apart from having to talk a language he can’t, he is also detachted from her own counrty and family, and have economical and social difficulties there. No matter how hard he tries with the narrator, he can not express his ideas through language because of the “paralysis of will”. He has the ideas and theme in his mind,but he can’t write the whole of it, for he is afraid of the thougth that rest of the lecture won’t come out, which makes him “immobilized” and desperate. Unable to talk and write, and fear of failure causes him to be more depressed. Actully his English lecture symbolizes the returning to the old successful days of journalism before the era of Nazis, because if he manages to do that, a little bit hope and ambition’ll be back in his miserable life. Another thing is lack of language brings along the lack of communication in the story. Martin’s (the narrator) not knowing German and Oskar’s inability to talk English bring about the trouble of loneliness. Unable to speak makes him feel “moron” and trapped,so it becomes burden on him. Oskar feels more and more desolated when he can’t express what he goes through emotionally and mentally, which eventually causes his suicide.
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