History can be defined as “the methodical record of public events” where memory is
defined as “the faculty by which events are recalled or kept in mind”. Thus history
and memory interrelate as history can be seen as the contextual justification for
memory. “The Fiftieth Gate” is a poignant interweaving of history and memory.
The text follows protagonist, Mark Baker an historian, son of Holocaust survivors
Genia and Yossl (Joe), on an historical journey through memory, to uncover the
origins of his past and act as a catalyst for future generations to also connect with
their history. Mark Baker’s journey through history and memory is also executed
through his conventional ideas that memory is biased and less valid than history.
There are numerous references to the discrepancies between the personal memories
of his parents and the documented history Mark as an historian believes. In this way
it is apparent that Mark is on a quest for verification, “my facts from the past are
different”. This displays the flaw Mark traditionally notes in memory and his need for
As responders accompany Mark on his journey, they also encounter the complexity
of simultaneously being a son and an historian. This attested via the following when
Mark collates his parent’s memories with documented historical evidence “His was
a past written on a page…mother couldn’t point to anyone”. This quote represents
the way Mark requires documented evidence, history. This is because he believed
his father’s memories only when had had evidence and didn’t believe his mother as
she was the sole survivor in the town and could not provide documented evidence to
verify her memories. As the text progresses, Mark does discover testimony of an SS
soldier that justified her account, “found something at last… it’s...
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