Benny the war in Europe

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Benny, the War in Europe, and Myerson’s daughter Bella

This short story takes place in Montreal in a Jewish family. It begins during WW2 and continues 5-10 years. It appears to be a small and mainly poor working class community. Benny’s family seems to be wanting more from life, especially his father, who always compares his son to the other sons in the community.

Benny:
In the beginning of the story Benny is described as a quiet boy, who is likely to stay out of trouble, should he goes to war. He does go to war and when he returns apparently nothing has changed. Benny is still the quiet boy; short and skinny with a long narrow face, a pulpy mouth and soft black eyes. An important thing to notice is his hands. Later in the story his hands become somewhat a symbol of his mental illness

(Page 174, line 24) Q: “He had big conspicuous hands, which he preferred to keep out of sight in his pockets. In fact he seemed to want to keep out of sight altogether … ” Q. end.

Benny is clearly locked up inside and whenever it rains, it triggers his emotional stress, perhaps because the sound of heavy rain hitting a tin roof reminds him of machine guns firing. Later when he starts to hang around at Pop’s Cigar & Soda, he often just sits quietly looking at his hands, as if he is reliving the horrors he has seen in the war. Benny starts to lighten up after he marries Bella. He becomes talkative, works hard in his brother’s garage and generally becomes all that, what his old class-master in high school recommended he should become: An honest hard working citizen. Everything turns out fine for Benny, but all though he can now repress his scars, they are still deeply rooted in him. This is also the reason for the very sad ending of the story; that he watches a newsreel concerning war matters, and it all then comes back casting him, once again, into despair.

Bella.
Bella is the daughter of Mr. Myerson, the proprietor of Pop’s Cigar & Soda. She works behind the counter

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