The Illusion Of Seperateness By Simon Van Booy

1643 words - 7 pages

The running theme that all of our choices and subsequent actions can have a wide ripple effect in life is a strong presence in The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy. Although there are many examples within this story, the French farmer Paul, chooses under great personal threat to help John. This unselfish choice likely saves John’s life; unknowingly Paul’s decision has an indirect, yet profound effect on many people. Paul’s simple nursing and support, despite his own significant loss is not lost on John. One aspect of the cascade created by Paul is when John who is faced with the possibility of killing a German soldier mired in dead bodies and filth, literally, merely rolls over. That German soldier known as A is a tender man on the wrong side of the war; later saves a baby. The child whom he saved later provides extraordinary tenderness at the end of Mr. Hugo’s life. The tender feathering of lives intertwined, even unspoken, as with John and Mr. Hugo’s only contact has a longstanding influence.
Following the crash of John’s B-24, he spends a long cold dawn alone, hiding at the edge of a field in France. When he awakens later, painting the stealth of his escape in his mind, he is literally grabbed by Paul (Van Booy 97). Paul a local farmer was seeking John, in hopes of offering help before the Germans had opportunity to find him. He had cleverly planned ahead to distract the German soldiers with fresh pheasant. Even the act of hiding John in a potato sack on his cart likely put him at risk for instant execution at the hands of the Germans. His solid and unquestioning support of John is not without risk. Paul shares that “people he had once trusted profiteering from others’ misery… he attended the public executions of his friends… nobody was safe, he said” (Van Booy 98). It is inferred by Van Booy that Paul may be a member of the Maquis, whether by design or default is unclear.
As John is cleaned up, fed and given first aid by Paul, he queries when Paul’s cousins will be home. Paul later walks him out to a cluster of fruit trees and John sees four fresh graves, still showing hand prints from a recent burial (Van Booy 100). Without fanfare, Paul shares “Jacqui was only three, but it made no difference” (Van Booy 100). This farmer is quite well aware that his actions in rescuing John can cost him his life. With Johns hazy weeks of hiding and mending under the protection of Paul, there are no great revelations; they are merely two tired and sad men trying to survive. As John’s foot grows worse, Paul is compelled to find a doctor to treat him despite the risk. Later, the Mayor comes to the farmhouse and jokes with John that the injury to his foot may be the death of them all (Van Booy 101). Paul indeed never comes back, although it is never stated, the unspoken possibility is that he is killed by the German soldiers while seeking medical attention for John. His steadfast support of John was not done for glory; he was hanging on to his...

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