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This book “Fugitive Pieces” by Anne Michaels is arguably one of the very prominent books written around the end of the 20th century. This is basically due to the fact that the book reflects one of the major aspects of the Second World War which is the victims and those who can relate to the Holocaust that it caused. This particular book was written in mid 90s ,precisely 1996.This was many years after the second world war but the interesting this is that its cinematic and vivid way of painting that incredible picture by revealing some of the feelings of people who unfortunately experienced the sorrowful death of people –relatives ,friends or associates who they love . This particular piece of artistic work of literature is basically about two lives that are miserable; it passionately talks about a tragedy that is not likely to be forgotten by any of the generations to come.
Anne Michaels aptly describes the broken and the damaged souls of two humans who lived at two different times and belong to different generations yet they still have a very vital, sort of point of intersection (Kremer, L., 2003). This point of intersection that the two have in common is characterized as lifelong and endless pain and grief. The two are entrapped in some sort of cycle of pain and they don’t seem to be in apposition to figure out how to emancipate themselves. This wonderful work of literature in a rather creative way shocks and surprises the reader with how it views humanity. Considering this is work done by a very creative poet it, one requires a third eye to be in apposition to capture some very crucial elements that are addressed. According to Postone, M., & Santner, L.,(2003),this is not simply a story put together by a poet who underwent psychological trauma or torture occasioned by the Second World War and belong to the post world war generation but of a man whose way of living and looking at things has been drastically changed by numerous horrors that his own relatives and family went through. This can be considered to be an eye opening story about a tragedy of all human beings whose way of living never remained the same courtesy of the horrendous World War II. The book aptly captures two almost similar but totally different points of view of the activities and event that happened afterwards to victims of world war II and their descendants .These are point of views from different representatives of different generations. According to Michaels, A., (2009), this work of literature makes a link between the sorrows, tribulations and pains that two people experienced and in the process revealing the true energy that lies within human beings and the whole concept of humanism. It’s an open secret that the Second World War destroyed the lives of dozens of people. A fact that can never be forgotten and hence making the reader remember and probably attempt to relate to the everlasting sorrow and pain in the hearts of those who suffered the trauma of post world war II through the touching heroic stories of Ben and Jakob.A keen reader will notice that the writer switches from one character ,Jakob to Ben in a rather interesting way to help the reader compare the two experiences .In order for someone to clearly understand the reason that led Anne Michaels to switch from Jakob to Ben in the book he or she must be very keen. That was probably necessary for helping readers to understand how peculiar the life of these characters-Jakob and Ben.
The fugitive pieces comes off as holocaust kind of novel which highlights a couple of interesting themes like the theme about memory which the entire book heavily captures .The book is always referring to the past and activities that are talked about revolve around world war II. The theme of pain and suffering is very evident in the book. Another theme that is covered intensively is that about the good and evil.
The theme of pain and suffering is well captured by Jakob’s tragedy. The theme is well developed by the writer who starts it by narrating of how Jakob who was an orphan at a very tender age. The novel starts with a rather painful introduction where the story of one Jakob Beer who was a Jew and only seven years old and how he unfortunately experienced his parents barbaric and brutal murderer. The setting of the tragedy was in Poland. The writer creatively makes the reader get to understand the painful and traumatizing experience that Jakob underwent by making him appear to be a character full of resilience. The main reason why Jakob is made to remain alive is that he happens to be having a very secretive place he hides at that point in time when his parent are murdered by the Nazis. The theme of pain and suffering is further enhanced by the writer when he we are told that Jakob had one beloved sister called Bella who unfortunately got abducted by the merciless Nazis. When all this is happening Jakob has absolutely no idea, not only about her wellbeing but also her about her whereabouts. Jakobs pain, suffering and sorrows as a young boy is further worsened when he loses all his people who happened to be so dear and special to him. He is left with nothing but devastation as a small boy and at an age when he barely understood death .As a small boy with no strength nor courage to get over the torture he has no one but only himself to rely on for emotional support. Jakob’s situation is further complicated when he has no other option than running away from his village to seek refuge elsewhere .Due to the fact that he had no one to console him as he was mourning he decided to burry himself in muddy place to avoid the Nazis wrath.
The theme of pain and suffering is also evident when we are told that a certain Greek archaeologist called Athos Roussos came to Jakobs rescue when he accidentally found him while digging out soil from an area and the incident made the archeologist feel very sorry for Jakob. Jakobs travails and tribulations only appeared to be mitigated when Athos stopped his works and decided to secretly take him to an island – Zakynthos, for hiding. That was on place where Jakob sort of became a bit comfortable because the Nazis feared Zakynthos and therefore could not track him. Through this pain and suffering Jakob, while in the Jewish community, he gets to learn more about geology, art, botany and poetry.
The theme is further developed when we see Jakob together with Athos having it very rough when they have to move to a new residence –Toronto. While there his tribulations are not yet done so he has bigger responsibilities that he has to fulfill as a man. First he has to get married while in a foreign land where he doesn’t know any customs, women and any other ritual related to marriage while there. While in Canada Jakob eventually decided to get married. As a foreigner, he had another bigger responsibility of fending for his family and therefore had to get himself in some economic activity to help him earn a livelihood and that was poetry and doing translations. The theme is also seen when we are told that Jakob never got to know what eventually happened the sister, an incident that painfully left a terrible memory in his heart. His heart and soul in spite of all the little comfort and happiness that his lovely wife brought in his life, he is constantly hurting from the fact that he never came to terms with the reality of whether his sister –Bella, was alive or not. According to Howells, C.,(2004),throughout the story Jakob is subjected to pain and suffering .The image that seem to haunt him most is that of his lost sister and the horrendous murder of his parents which messed his childhood .
For Jakob ,its pain and suffering throughout ,first as victim of the Holocaust. He was first a child who had no childhood, later on he became a grown-up unfortunate enough to lack happiness caused not just by life and the accompanying responsibilities but his second wife.
Another very dominant theme in this book is that of memory .All that is talked about is of the past times and vividly remembered and the pain is made cinematic by the writer, whose creativity doesn’t fail nor disappoints. The story was written around mid 90s but the events are those that took place many decades ago. The book aptly explains some of the traumatic experiences that Jakob had during the Second World War and how they became his main burden and crushed his mind and soul. Jakobs story is so moving due to the fact that virtually all the experiences and troubles are captured as if they happened recently. All this shows the good memory that the writer has. We are told of how he became a prisoner of his memory which kept on making him recall the horrendous loss and pain he went through back then. His second wife called Michaela who seems to be his soul mate completely fails to accept the differences and peculiarities of Jakob’s lifestyle .The memories of how Jakob learnt to love, to forgive, not being afraid of the future and living life, in spite of all the pain that stuck forever in his soul. This theme is further enhanced when we are made to believe that Jakob manages to live a good life later on and never forgets the sorrowful moments of the deadly holocaust that took away all his loved family members. Memories of the tragedies are relived through the writer who accurately remembers some of the events .The whole story about Jakob is told according to diaries which Jakob wrote when he was still alive. These diaries were discovered by a certain professor called Ben who was much interested in biographies of people who experienced the World War II. This is a classic story which needed a good memory to retell .W are told of how Ben met Jakob together with his very talented wife Michaela at a friends house (Sturgess, C., 2003.The reader is given a description of Ben who was then sixty years old and got interested in the interested in the poetry and in the personality of Jakob Beer. The writer’s memory makes her remember so many activities and events that preceded the war and this can be seen in the story when she shifts focus from story of Jakob to that of Ben .The books attempts, and in a rather interesting way, to capture the pain that the victims of the post world war experience and the families of the victims of the Nazi. This is book is about how impossible it is to forget war horrors. This book gives the memories that one can have after loosing all the dearest people in their life. Through the book the reader’s memory is improved when they are reminded of some of the nasty experiences that can be found in the hearts of the victims of the Holocaust.