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Language plays a very vital role in the day to day living by ensuring there is efficiency and effectives in communication. However, Anne Michaels in the novel 'Fugitive Pieces' emphasizes on how language can affect the past, present and future of a person. This paper addresses the role which language has in the novel Fugitive pieces. It analyses how language affect the life of the characters. Jakob Beer who is the main character faces a traumatizing past that change later due to learning different languages.
Language cannot be ignored predominantly because the book itself uses language to communicate efficiently. The English language has been used to give the story of the polish boy Jakob and the events as they unfold in his life. This has made it easy to relate to the story and make their deductions. The poetic nature of the language even makes it more appealing and gives the story in a better meaning than just plainly writing it.
In addition, there is an extensive use of metaphorical language; notably, this can be seen in the traumatic process that Jakob goes through as his life. The many images that were going through his mind due to the loss of his parents and sister Bella portrayed the destruction of the human spirit. He states "The spirit in the body is like wine in a glass; when it spills, it seeps into air and earth and light....It's a mistake to think it's the small things we control and not the large, it's the other way around" (Michaels, p.147). It paints a picture of loss, pain, urgency and love. In this part language is not only explained by writing but the way the images communicate what actually transpired.
Through this figurative language one gets to understand the power of memory, the redemptive power of love, implacability of the world and the historical heartbreak of the character without distorting the message. For example he describes the situation as "I couldn't turn my anguish from the precise moment of death. I was focused on that historical split second: the tableau of the haunting trinity-perpetrator, victim, witness. But at what moment does wood become stone, peat become coal, limestone become marble? The gradual instant" (Michaels, p.76).
After Jakob Beer escapes from his home where his parents and sister are brutally attacked he moves to the forest and it is there he meets with Athos an archeologist who helps him transform his life. In this aspect language would be the only thing that would make the two characters understand each other. Beer had to explain what he has been through for Athos to understand; indeed, this means it acted as a medium of communication. Language here can be seen to open barriers that may be facing us; cerainly, it is seen as a door to better understanding among all characters.
Beer then secretly moves with Athos to Greece; equally, this acts as the turning point of Beer's life and a window to forget the past. He is able to learn Greek and English which opens new doors to his life (Michaels, p.93). Athos tries his best to instill the love of language, ethics and scholarship to Beer as they live together in Greece which propels him to be able to study language the more. In this way language is seen to play a role of uniting the two characters. While Athos is struggling with the loss of his wife since he is a widower, Beer on the other hand, is struggling with the loss of his family members.
On his part, Athos wants to heal the wounds that Beer has through keeping him busy with the Hebrew alphabet. He is also able to study Greek which Athos explains to Beer that the language is all about the future he quotes that the both languages i.e. Hebrew and Greek are full of "ancient loneliness of ruins" (Michaels, p.132). Athos plays a very important part in the learning of the language as he shares stories and reads many books such as on navigation, icons, Greek independence, poetry, botany and Keats which makes him understand the language.
The languages are therefore used to depict the past of the characters where they have faced numerous horrific and traumatic experiences which are all in the past. Language in this scene is used to symbolically describe their past. Athos also encourages Beer to focus on the future rather than the past as they study the languages which makes him able to heal the wounds. In addition, language is used as a healing process or an aid in that the characters are able to focus more on the language instead of remembering their past.
Beer seems to enjoy every part of the transformation process and the new course of his life after he met with Athos. He describes the issues "A little of my Yiddish, with smatterings of mutual Polish. His Greek and English. We took new words into our mouths like foreign foods, suspicious, acquired tastes" (Michaels, p.129).
Language is also seen as a source of love; undoubtedly, they are able to form a bond of love among themselves as they carry on with their lives. Athos clearly states that "I will be your koumbaros, your godfather," this is not only meant to last a short while since he continues to state "We must carry each other. If we don't have this, what are we?" (Michaels, p.147) through language they are able to accept themselves and forge ahead just as the languages had been characterized by ruins they were ready to explore their new found lives.
Moving to Toronto is also characterized by language; indeed, the twoo character move to a new place that makes a different setting of language. Here there is a change in the language being spoken by the natives. In addition, language contributes to yet another great transformation of Beer's life. While in Toronto he chooses to become a translator and a poet. Language opens a new chapter in his life since he is able to earn.
Moreover, though he is still traumatized by the past events he looks to language to get a new lease in life and restore his life back. This means language in the past had the power to destroy, omit, and reduce to nothing but also it had the power to restore. He writes poems and engages in language to be able to heal his past; moreover, in his account he says On Idhra I finally began to feel my English strong enough to carry experience. I became obsessed by the palpable edge of sound. The moment when language at last surrenders to what it's describing: the subtlest differentials of light or temperature or sorrow. I'm a kabbalist only in that I believe in the power of incantation. A poem is as neural as love; the rut of rhythm that veers the mind' (Michaels, p.164).
In the second part of the novel Ben is portrayed with similar predicaments as Jakob. Language also contributes to Ben's life; likewise, he is greatly influenced by Jakob's poetry such that he does all he can to get his note book. He travels to Greece where Jakob was living to try and retrieve the notebook and learn more on his poetry. Language plays a role in Ben's life since he is a son of a holocaust survivor. Through the poetry he is able to heal his broken soul, emotions and also bring back his life to the right track. He is able to move from the past happenings and learn to love and live to face a bright future. Through language his life is transformed just like Jakob's.
Language characterizes the whole life of Beer and even in his death he is able to poetically yearn for children he didn't have with his wife Michaela's. This gives language a continuum effect since the poem will be able to speak to future generations. His poetry and use of language later inspires Ben who finds them. Language in this book has extensively been used to bring out a context of changes and transformation. Through language lives have been transformed making them change for the better. This makes Anne Michaels in the novel 'Fugitive Pieces' a master piece of praising language in the effective and efficient transformation of lives. In addition, language is viewed as a perfect way to express oneself which will make others understand what one is going through. There is no doubt that language has the potential to transform and change the course ones destiny if only they are ready and willing.