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World Literature Paper I

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IB English A1 HL World Literature Assignment I: How are the pains in The Assault and the pains of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich expressed in the protagonists? 03/10/2010 Word Count: 1,603 The physical pains of Anton Steenwijk in Harry Mulisch's novel, The Assault, and the social isolation of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, are motifs used by the authors to highlight the emotional and physical pains experienced by the protagonists in the novels. The pains are tied in with many frequent themes of the novels and are crucial to the development of the protagonist's characterization. After the death of Anton's family in The Assault by the actions of the Nazi soldiers, Anton begins to hold in any memories of emotional pain he experiences in his life, starting with the death of his family in Haarlem, believed to have murdered Fake Ploeg, a Dutch policeman who cooperated with the Nazis. When Anton is separated from his family by the Nazis and is put in the truck, "Anton lay on his side and curled up, his wrists crossed under his chin" (Mulisch, 29). This is the beginning of Anton's repression of his painful memories. ...read more.


When meeting with the physician Kolya, Ivan responds with Kolya's ignorance of the pain of the prisoners, "how can you expect a man who's warm to understand a man who's cold?" (Solzhenitsyn, 19). The connection between Ivan and the other prisoners are stronger than with the prison guards. After the discussion with Cor Takes and his part in the night of the assault, suppressing the terrible memories of that night, Anton decides to take his wife and daughter Sandra to the beach. While on the beach, Anton obtains a sunburn while napping on the beach. The sunburn indicates that the suppression of the memories Anton is holding back and it is a sign that holding in his memories were getting worse. "Only now did the deep sunburn on his face and the front of his legs begin to show...He had awakened with a splitting headache" (Mulisch, 128). In the result of the sunburn, Anton receives a headache. As time progresses with Anton, the physical pains Anton feels hits the pinnacle point when Anton is struck with the anxiety attack in his summer house in Tuscany, Italy. "He had been reading a little, and suddenly he looked up, disturbed by the silence. Restless, he began to wander through the whitewashed, irregularly shaped rooms and went up and down the spiral staircase with the uneven steps. ...read more.


Thus proving the fact Shukhov is in pain when he is not working with his fellow prisoners. By the end of the novel, Shukhov realizes the day of work had made the pain go away when it gives him worth and value. "Shukhov went to sleep fully content...And he hadn't fallen ill. He'd got over it" (Solzhenitsyn, 139). Anton's pain in The Assault is the culmination of many significant themes in the novel. With the memories buried in the mind of Anton had been used to show the physical pain Anton experiences throughout the novel. Holding the memories and pains experienced in the novel had cause Anton to realize that repressing the memories only get worse. Since the pain has no where to go, the pain is shown through his exterior, his body. With no one to understand his own pain, it gives the reader that Anton is isolated from the rest of the world. Similarly, Ivan Shukhov's pain is the idea of isolationism. When Shukhov is not working with his comrades, giving him no worth or value, the pain he suffers from is from the neglect of human comfort and understanding. Both men are marked by pain and isolation, with the Anton's pain of emotional neglect and Shukhov's pain of social isolationism as crucial events in their tormented portrayal. ...read more.

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