Language A HL 1 – Written Assessment
Question: How is the incident on page five a metaphor for Anton’s quest throughout the novel? In the prologue of the Assault, Harry Mulisch broadly foreshadows the entirety of the novel through an underlying, quintessential theme that provides great insight into human nature. The image of the solitary man depicted in the opening scene reveals the generalized theme of an unchanging continuity between the past, present, and future that in the protagonist’s case, can only be broken by the will and/or desire to endure pain by dealing with and forgetting the past; an ordeal that serves as a comparison to Anton’s quest of self discovery thoughout the novel. Tying this universal theme with the characterization of Anton, Mulisch portrays how the protagonist’s identity is significantly based on his[Anton] childhood experiences, which reveals his[Anton] curious and innocent nature. Anton’s innocence is revealed through his thought process: “Anton used to think that Carefree meant a place where cares entered freely, not a place free from cares”(3). Only a child would note nuances in words to give them more meaning. Anton’s inclination to make literal, child-like observations about his surroundings factors his approaches to situations in his later life, including his outward display of defiance to accept his own mistakes when confronted with the truth. In addition, in the aftermath of World War II Anton speculates on retrieving a capsule replete with knowledge: “Inside the capsule. . .be of interest long before then?”(11)Anton’s curiosity reflects his potential because of his thirst for knowledge. The protagonist’s thirst for knowledge and child-like naivety remain with him, setting the stage for hardships and adversity in his future. For example, after the heart wrenching incident in which Anton is separated from his parents, his child-like curiosity leads him to discover his own
Cited: Mulisch, Harry. The Assault. New York: Pantheon, 1985. Print.