Interaction between Violence and Distance in ‘Assault’
The novel Assault as written by the Dutch author Harry Mulisch is one of the literally work that effectively portrays a combination of emotions in the manner it is written. The novel narrates a story of a young man named Anton that was living during the Second World War. The effects of the war that was there in the whole world are evident from the beginning of the novel where Anton had to move far away from his home after his two parents were killed. The author has managed to bring out a close relationship that exists between violence and emotional distance. Anton is described to be full of strong emotions as a result of the death of his parents that also leaves him homeless and had to live with relatives far away from home.
Anton is in a constant struggle with strong emotions after the parents were killed and he moved from their homes. He lived in a bewailing mood for many years yearning to go back home where his family was killed. Seven years later the after the massacre he gets back to their home only to find the find the burned down residence. The main reason that he Anton cannot manage to stay all his life normally without going back to his burned residence is that he felt attached to the bond that existed between in their family before the massacre causing an emotional stir. It is only when he gets back into the burned residence that the events that took place on the fateful day become vivid in him. While he is far from home he does live in denial for all the time.
After the opening of the book where Anton watches the death of his parents and killing of the neighbors which subsequently led to the burning of their residence the novel jumped to 1952. The author describes the events that took place over the period not to be very important. Though the novel might not contain much explanation about the life of Anton over the given period there is still a lot that was undergoing in his life emotionally. As he tries to continue living a normal life and he goes to school to become a doctor later on in his life the night of the massacre becomes more vivid as the development took place. The events that he saw become more unbelievable. In cases that a person undergoes emotional trauma just as Anton did it is important that they do accept the situation that took place and moves on and it is only possible if they are not taken very far from the site of the action for him to live in acceptance, When they are taken away, they tend to live in denial and it can affect their emotional whole life negatively.
The subsequent episodes that take place involve Anton meeting with different people attached to the killings that took place during the world war. In 1956 they share a moment of an emotional spat with the Fake Ploeg as Anton informs that his father was killed by the group that the father to Ploeg belonged to. Fake is also in denial of the event that had taken place and that is why he seeks for someone to blame in order to comfort his life. Anton, however, does not allow him and gives a correct recount of events that took place. It possibly was hard for Ploeg to accept the death of his father easily without knowing to whom it was supposed to be blamed on. For all the years that they lived in distance with Anton he all along had the wrong information that caused his heart to remain in anger. If only there was no existence of the long distance then they would have shared on the matters concerning the issue and started the journey towards healing emotionally.
As the novel continues the author introduces more characters that meet Anton who are most people of his generation. During the meetings, it emerges that there is antagonism that is held in each person’s hearts thinking it is their neighbor they are to blame for the massacre of their families. It was hard for each of the people that Anton met in his life to accept that their neighbors were not on the opposite side of the war some even being Nazis supervisors. The separation that took place after the violence made it hard for any reconciliation to take place since each of the survivors went their way without even knowing how their massacred brothers, sisters and parents were buried. It only emerges when it is too late that the neighbors thought that their enemies were next door and had cost them their beloved parents and siblings. The distance that was created emotionally detached the people that were once in unity. The author describes that the greatest challenge that the people faced after the war was the emotional alienation and detachment from their fellow survivors. It was hard for the people described to determine who could be trusted and the one that should be treated with contempt. All the events that unfold however make the issue of guilt and innocence become more vague and hard to comprehend as the blame game ensues.
Mulisch managed to show Anton as a character that had great depth of emotions that was characterized by trying to cover up his emotions that were really huge especially after the separation of the people that he loved. The fact that the after the massacre Anton went to live with a people that had not experienced the war it was hard for them to associate with his emotions that were quite sad. If at all he had got a chance to continuously share with the people that they had the same emotional problems then it would have been easy for the continuous healing from the trauma. It was unfortunate for the characters that they had no chance of being together and share on matters affecting them emotionally after the massacre.
In conclusion, Mulisch manages to show the emotional effects that people that have gone through a certain war trauma have to undergo and especially if they are separated from each other and from the place of their residence. Anton being the main character suffers greatly emotionally even he undergoes tough times as he also tried to unearth how his parents died. The distance causes the character to live in emotional denial and in most cases; it can be dangerous since the person tend to act in…
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