Witness Essay

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Community spirit and isolation
Witness also makes a comment on community values and individualism. Rachel is clearly part of a caring community, even if it is patriarchal and rigid. The values of Amish culture are depicted through the funeral and barn-raising scenes, where we are left in noDANI doubt that serving God and others before yourself is the cornerstone of society. Quilt-making, building barns, cooking and mourning are all collective pursuits. While Weir projects these qualities in a positive light, we see that individual passions and personalities are sacrificed for the greater goal of keeping the community together. Book's world, however, is not committed to the community, but rather the individual. He is alone, married to his work and his only real friend, Carter, is killed by the corrupt trio. He has a sister, Elaine, but not a family of his own. While Book enjoys the Amish values he sees, he knows that he cannot share in them completely due to his status as an outsider. This is demonstrated in the barn-raising scene, where the men start singing in German at the end of the day. Book is reminded that he is not part of their culture, cannot understand their language and will never be accepted on equal terms. The end of the film, however, shows us the value of individual determination when it is used in conjunction with community spirit.RAG The fact that the Amish answer the ringing of the bell and act as witnesses to Schaeffer's corruption - when combined with Book's individual ingenuity in trapping and killing McFee and Fergie -ELI: effectively safeguards both Book's own life and the lives of the Lapps. We sense, as the audience, that Book will take his new understand-ELI' ing of the value of people working together back with him into his life, and be changed by this for the better.

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