Innocence: The Ignorant Bliss Throughout this course we have read numerous novels and memoirs specifically pertaining to life in the Middle East or life that is somehow related to Middle Eastern culture. Many of these works have recurring common themes such as betrayal, power, devotion, and suffering. However, two themes that very prominently stick out are the themes of the oppression of women and the loss of childhood innocence. At least one, if not both, of these themes have proven to be a trend in all eight books our class has read this year.
One of these main themes, the loss of childhood innocence ND how this loss manifests itself is revealed in the works of Lie Weasel’s Night and Hashish Mater’s In the Country of Men. One may wonder and question what it is that makes children so appealing? Is it their innate openness to loving and being loved? Or, is it simply their never ending playfulness and humor? Far beyond these things and in my own view, children are unequivocally beautiful because they still have something that most adults and even most adolescents have lost, the divine quality of innocence.
Through their stories, it Is revealed that both Lie Wishes and Salesman experience a loss of this kind, a loss that simply no child should ever be subjected to. In the Country of Men by Halvah Mantra, Is set In Tripoli, Libya under the rule of dictator Miramar Qaeda and Is told through the perspective of a nine-year-old boy. Being born a boy, Salesman Immediately entered the world with an advantage. For most of his life, Salesman had lived pleasantly with his two loving parents until everything changed with the emergence of Labia’s revolution.
Salesman soon finds himself dealing with the constant fear that his father will be caught by the Libyan authorities as well as Salesman’s feelings of obligation to take care of his emotionally Immature and unstable mother. Amid these conditions, a nine year old Salesman seeks to deal with his burdens as well as attempt to define his life In this destructive environment. “Babe never found out about Mama’s Illness; she only fell Ill when he was away on business. It was as If, when the world was empty of him, she and I remained as stupid reminders, empty pages that had to be filled with the memory of how they had come to be married” (1).
As shown In this quote, It Is apparent on even he first page of the novel that Salesman Is wise beyond his years and Is very clued In about how his world operates. Despite Salesman’s age and naive reference to his mother’s alcoholism as an “Illness”, he Is fully aware of the true extent of his mother’s condition and why she Is frequently In such anguish. In this quote, Salesman’s tone Is not questioning but Is assertive In his thoughts on his mother, Urn Salesman. “Her medicine bottle was beside her. It was as big as a water bottle and had nothing written on It, the lulls Inside It the color of water.
She had left It standing open on ere bedside table. Without thinking I took It to the kitchen and began pouring It down the sink. I stopped to Imagine what she would do when she found out. She could always go to Major the baker and buy another, I thought. I emptied It all” (116). This care of his own mother. This quote is significant because it is a representation of how conscious Salesman is of his mother’s well being. Even at the mere age of nine, he knows how detrimental his mother’s “medicine” is so he takes it upon himself to do the safe thing by disposing of it all.
However, his naturally naive and childlike mind is till exhibited when he refers to the alcohol as medicine and when he becomes fearful of the trouble he will be in when Jim Salesman finds out. These quotes depict how fast Salesman’s innocence is lost throughout the novel. He is forced to enter adulthood prematurely as he searches for stability while trying to do the right thing in his life despite the exposure to his mother’s alcoholism and the absence of his father. Night by Lie Wishes is a haunting memoir of a young boys experience and survival through one of the world’s greatest atrocities.
Lie Wishes is a fifteen year old Jewish o living in Hungary with his parents and sisters when the Nazi’s occupy his hometown in the year of 1944. Lie and his family are immediately taken to the concentration camp Auschwitz where they are separated forever. Else’s innocence is stripped away the very moment he arrives at Auschwitz and continues to be taken from him until he finds himself left with nothing. “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little aces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never” (32). This powerful quote exhibits so much about Lie Weasel’s change in character compared to the start of his story.
Not only had he fully recognized his complete loss of faith in God and all things good in the world, he had also lost any last remaining qualities of innocence. “l did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!… ” (112). This quote is towards the end of the book when Lie wakes up to find that his deteriorating father that was laying beside him the previous night had disappeared. It suddenly becomes very obvious that Else’s father as taken to the crematorium to be killed.
In his quote, Lie keeps his reflection on his father’s passing brief with barely any sense of sorrow. Despite being surrounded by death, the passing of his father, the separation from his mother and sisters, and the conditions in which he was living, Lie no longer has it in him to express sadness and it becomes very clear that he is no longer the child he used to be. All in all, although many themes with many differing aspects are prevalent in Hashish Mater’s In the Country of Men and Lie Weasel’s Night, the loss of Salesman and Else’s especially, as well as relate to the other novels and memoirs we have read this semester.
Throughout both Lie and Salesman’s childhood Journeys, we are able to see not only the sudden and inappropriate shift from child to adult, but also how this shift and extreme loss of childhood innocence changes each of their character’s and how it drastically affects their lives. Night and In the Country of Men are examples of how precious the innocence of a child is and why is it important to protect that innocence. As we age, our lives tend to become more complicated and consequential, e start to see the world through a different lens as adults.
Albeit more practically and wisely, we lose our sense of innocent authenticity which in turn causes us to develop a wide host of negative traits. We become more skeptical and critical about our world and the people in it. In the case of children, they are not tainted by our harsh world and are therefore more blissful by nature; and the novels we have focused on in this course, specifically Night and In the Country of Men have proven that this special and unreasonable quality is something that should not be taken away from them.