Irwin Shaw’s Depiction Of Opposing Ideology

1997 words - 8 pages

"Writers of fiction, when they begin, are more likely to try the short form" (Shaw)
-Irwin Shaw
Irwin Shaw, an American playwright, screen writer, and novelist, enjoyed writing short stories. Assisting The New Yorker, Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post, and a 700-page book with his short works, Shaw has established himself as a professional in his field. His stories ranged from the chant of social significance, to the tales of laborers and struggling families, and finally a mix of irony and poignancies. During these phases, as Herbert Ruhm wrote in National Review, he still "consistently remained on a high level of craftsmanship". (CAO (count as crit lit?)). A continuing theme of Shaw's short fiction is war and violence. The cause of war and violence usually comes from opposing ideologies. Irwin Shaw expresses the suffering, growing tension, and hatred that arise from opposing ideologies which was felt by many people during World War II.
It is easy to depict the theme of suffering that appears from opposing ideologies in the short story "Medal from Jerusalem." Ruth, a Jewish girl, explains to a young American boy from Vermont the suffering she has experienced being a Jew in Europe during World War II. The theme truly emerges from the story when the two young lovers walk to Ruth's apartment and Ruth is telling Mitchell about her past in Berlin, and states, "'My father was taken to a concentration camp and we decided it was time for me to leave [Berlin]'" (Shaw 196). She expresses the struggles she has faced when she tells Mitchell she split up with her family to survive.
The theme in the story is distinct because Shaw “oversimplifies his moral, social, or political problems” (Peden). Ruth tells Mitchell that when her Jewish friends and she had enough money, "'they piled us into freight cars, eight hundred of us, and locked us in, men, women, and children, lying one on top of another, and the trip took a week and a day to Genoa, and when we got there the ship never arrived'" (Shaw 197). She goes on to further state, "‘six people committed suicide because they couldn't bear it'" (Shaw 197). When she found another boat, they "'locked [her] into the hold of a fifty-year-old Greek ship with 700 people for over a month'" (Shaw 198). Ruth tells him how people died everyday on her ship. This was mainly because the food they were given had worms in it. The worms were in the biscuits, canned beef, and even the water they drank. "'The children wept all day, and the relatives of the people who died screamed a good deal of the time'" (Shaw 198).
Mitchell thinks about how he had known her as a gay and light-hearted girl, and she had helped him to forget about his own sufferings of the images of "planes spinning out of control and the dying men lying in their frozen blood on the tangled wires and broken aluminum of the Liberator floors" (Shaw 197). He felt like he owed it to her to take some of her agony with him and listens to her story. This shows that...

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