Table of Contents
A. The Primary Storyline ……………………………………………………………………..3
B. The issues that emerged …………………………………………………………………4
C. Wiesenthal’s moral problem
On Book I: The Sunflower
When I read the book it all boiled down to me that the main topic being discussed is the word forgiveness. Because the act of forgiveness has complex philosophical, moral, religious or spiritual aspects, it requires and deserves a thoughtful analysis of our beliefs. The main character in the book was a man name Simon Wiesenthal and who was also the author of this book.
The primary story line of the book, Simon Wiesenthal was a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp in Lemborg, Poland. He did pass a Polish cemetery on a forced journey to a Technical School which had been turned into a make shift hospital. On each grave site a sunflower had been planted, each standing straight. This is where the title of the book derived from. He envied those lying in their graves because they had been properly buried, a sunflower marking their graves, with butterflies flying overhead. He predicted his burial site would be a mass grave. After arriving at the make-shift hospital, he was secretly led by a nurse to a dying SS member’s bedside. The soldier recalled his past experiences with the Hitler youth group and his volunteering for army duty. The SS soldier described “the terrible thing” he had done and said, “Some time elapsed before I realized what guilt I had incurred.” Simon couldn’t forgive the soldier and left him in silence.
Simon began to doubt his choice to leave the soldier without offering the forgiveness he sought. Simon was shuffled to different work camps until he was sent to Block 6 where death was imminent. After the war he joined a commission to investigate war crimes. After seeing a field of sunflowers, he decided to visit the soldier’s mother. After the encounter, his doubts remained. In the concluding paragraph, the author writes, “You, who have just read this sad and tragic episode in my life, can mentally change places with me and ask yourself the question, “What would I have done?” Issues that emerged
There were many issues that emerged from the story. The first of the main issue were where after confirming that Simon was Jewish, a nurse escorts Simon to the bedside of a dying Nazi solider named Karl. Karl hauntingly recounts his involvement in the horrifying death of a father, a mother, and a dark-eyed child who are brutally shot down after jumping out of a burning building. Simon becomes extremely distressed with the imagery evoked by the untimely demise of the dark-eyed child, especially when he theoretically identifies the child with a six-year old named Eli. Indeed, while recalling the heart-wrenching scenes of the kindergarten extermination, Simon fights the urge to leave the hospital room as the dying soldier continues to recount the rest of his confession. With sincere remorse in his voice, Karl begs for the forgiveness of a Jew. The irony of this dying soldier's confession arises from the fact that "a murderer who did not want to be a murderer but who had been made into a murderer by his murderous ideology" was confessing his crime to a man that may die by the hands of these same murderers at any time. Struggling with this ironic dilemma and having an imagery of the child with piercing eyes that questioned the hatred of the world surrounding him, Simon leaves the soldier in complete silence. Simon seeks and challenges the opinions of his contemporaries about the beliefs on justice, mercy, human responsibility, and forgiveness. Simon had nightmares about the Nazi soldier’s confession. He went back to the hospital too see the Nazi soldier, but the nurse announced he died. The main issues come when Simon fails to understand why the Nazi soldier’s request for forgiveness and should he forgive him. He discussed with his close companions about the issue and heard their...
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