Finding Meaning In Un Sac De Billes

1659 words - 7 pages

No one asked to belong to a particular religion, fate planned it all. ‘Un Sac de Billes’ is my favorite text because it is the only French book I can actually relate to. It is an autobiography written by renowned French author Joseph Joffo. The book chronicles his experience during the invasion of Paris by the Germans in 1941. Interpreting this text from a postcolonial and intrinsic perspective reveals particular elements relevant to a postcolonial or intrinsic study. Although the text foregrounds the once infamous German stance towards race and diaspora, it also reflects, from an intrinsic perspective, the themes and characterization of the text.
The Germans afflicted the Jews in various ways and this severely affected Joseph’s family, since they were Jewish. 10 year old Joseph and 12 year old Maurice (his older brother), were horribly ridiculed by their classmates and teachers at school. It was time for Mr. Joffo, Joseph’s father to make a dramatic life changing decision in order to ensure his family’s safety. He ordered his boys to flee from Paris to a safe location ‘Zone Libre’ where their elder brothers Henry and Albert resided. The two brothers endured a great tribulation at that young age and escaped death on numerous occasions. The Germans finally left France after five years of persecuting the Jews and the Joffos reunited with the absence of Mr. Joffo who was unfortunately killed.

In Post Colonial Theory, Race is the division and classification of people using both physical and biological traits. People are mostly classified by religion, color or gender. The various groups who engage in race use it to maintain power and authority. I was once a victim of race because of my Muslim religion and I had to embrace it because my classmates made it a constant ridicule. Reading ‘Un Sac De Billes’, I found a similar situation where the Germans were the ones discriminating against the Jews. The Germans invaded their land and threatened their lives on a daily basis. In order to recognize all the Jews in Paris, the Germans made it mandatory for them to put on a yellow star, étoile jaune at all times. This facilitated the identification and subsequent persecution of the Jews. The Joffo brothers suffered greatly at school. Their classmates did not even know who a Jew was and what being a Jew meant, but they mocked them because of the general notion professed that Jews were dangerous. Naïve Joseph and Maurice were also confused because they knew they were Jews but did not have the faintest idea why it was wrong to hail from that race. Joseph felt so lonely because in class no one spoke to him and his class teacher treated him like he did not exist. When a question was asked, Joseph always put up his hand but his teacher Mr. Boulier constantly ignored him. This caused Joseph to deliberately disrupt lessons so that he would be punished and feel like he belongs to the class, but his teacher just glanced at him each time and always continued...

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