Personal Drama On The Background Of War

977 words - 4 pages

What could a quarrel between a store owner and his supplier, a short-lived love affair, and a day moth’s final moments have in common? The answer is: more than you’d think. Despite having seemingly unrelated plots, “Armistice”, “A Very Short Story”, and “The Death of the Moth” all feature the same motif – personal drama on the background of war. However, the authors of the three texts, Bernard Malamud, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf, respectively, incorporate this one theme in three very distinct ways.
Let’s begin with the most evident example – “Armistice”. Shortly after the beginning, Bernard Malamud introduces the background of the story – the first year of World War II. The main characters, grocery store owner Morris Lieberman and his meat supplier Gus Wagner, support two representatives of the main opposing factions during that period of the war, namely France and Germany. Morris is a Jew, who naturally fears the Nazi and “places his hope for the salvation of the Jews in his trust of the French army”. In contrast, Gus is “fired by the Nazi conquests and believes that they have the strength and power to conquer the world”. Strangely, these two men with completely opposite ideals “had once nearly been friends”. But now, the ongoing war is slowly increasing the distance between them. Moreover, the changes in their relations are mirror images of the events happening on the front. With each victory of the Germans over the French, Gus becomes more and more proud and contemptuous of Morris, who becomes ever more anxious and afraid. The climax of their unstable relationship coincides with the crushing blow, which the Germans deliver to the French when they conquer Paris. On that night, Morris falls into despair and grows uneasy when he thinks about Gus. The following day, the meat man boldly strides into the Jew’s shop and arrogantly teases him about the Nazi’s triumph. This leads to a bitter quarrel between the two associates, which causes Gus to push away Morris’ son, who tries to calm them, and makes him cry. Like Germany, Gus offers an armistice: “The meat’s on the table, pay me tomorrow”, because he does not want to lose Morris’s business. The story ends with another representation of the war. Morris is comforting his crying son, much like the Frenchmen from Paris would probably be doing, while Gus imagines himself as a German soldier in his tank, rumbling through the streets of the French city, instilling fear into its residents.
The next example to consider is “A Very Short Story”. This story demonstrates Ernest Hemingway’s minimalistic writing style, also known as the “Iceberg Theory”. Unlike “Armistice”, this text does not focus on describing a war. Nevertheless, war plays a central role throughout the entire plot. In its absence, none of the events in...

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