Term Paper: Historical Events

Pages: 5 (1745 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … personally charged works Train to Pakistan and Survival in Auschwitz there is a clear sense that circumstances rule the day and that characters' lives are changed by the events that surround them, of which they have no direct or indirect control. The most logical and obvious line in each work is that identity is the key to status and opportunity. Identity as a Jew or another undesirable "race" as well as national identity in the camp determines a great deal about the future and present life and treatment in Survival in Auschwitz. While national, birth and religious identity is crucial to division and/or protection in Train to Pakistan.

The character Iqbal in Train to Pakistan was one of the most telling of characters when it came to understanding how a social worker, purportedly seeking to care for others needs could intellectualize action and inaction in a divisive time. Iqbal's party identity means next to nothing to either his comrades or the village peoples. Yet, as one will see later his birth status and faith mean a great deal to all.

Iqbal wished they had sent someone else to Mano Majara. He would be so much more useful directing policy and clearing the cobwebs from their minds. But he was not a leader. He lacked the qualifications. He had not fasted. He had never been in jail. He had made none of the necessary "sacrifices." So, naturally nobody would listen to him> He should have started his political career by finding an excuse to court imprisonment. But there was still time. He would do that as soon as he got back to Delhi. By then, the massacres would be over. It would be quite safe." (Singh 50)

Later Iqbal's presence in the village actually lands him in jail, simply because he is a stranger to the area he is arrested for a murder he is innocent of. (62) Later the magistrate and his henchmen plan to charge him with any sort of mischief as they assume that he is a Muslim League member, though he has stated that he has been sent by the People's Party of India. (64) the Magistrate and his underlings care nothing of his political leanings, as they dismiss his affiliation, believing in a sort of sideways way that he is in fact a Muslim League member coming to try to save the Muslim refugees from expulsion from India. His birthright as a Sikh, regardless of the fact hat he is a professed atheist, educated and secular man believing that religion was irrelevant. (166) His treatment by the magistrate and the community forced his hand at claiming his lineal right to Sikhism.

You as Sikh, Iqbal Singhji?" inquired one of the men. "Yes." A fortnight earlier he would have replied emphatically "No," or "I have no religion" or "Religion is irrelevant." The situation was different mow, and in any case it was true he was born Sikh. "Was it in England that you cut your hair?" asked the same person. "No, sir," answered Iqbal, completely confused. "I never grew my hair long. I am just a Sikh without long hair and a beard." "Your parents must have been unorthodox," said Meet Singh coming to his aid.

Identity is the sole division in the partition of Pakistan and India and the individual manner in which each, individual found it necessary to understand and confront the issue of identity head on was essential to the division that plagued the nation of India at the time of the partition, just a few years after independence from the British. Many claim that Britain was a nation that left India to stew in years of segregated hatred it had not altered but had supported and even bolstered for its own gain. The individual then was forced, even in the case of an educated, relatively enlightened state such as that of Iqbal to claim the identity they were born with, so that each other individual and the system as a whole would be able to effectively, at the very least superficially understand his or her opinions and leanings, as they knew them, and accept or reject them based on the ease of stereotypes. Iqbal closes his thoughts in the work by reiterating the ideas of identity and right and wrong, the complete lack of personal control one has over anything, as once he has done nothing to aide the refugees on the train he feels the utter indifference of right and wrong in the state of the world. "If you look at things as they are, he told himself, there does not seem to be a code either of man or of God on which one can pattern one's conduct. Wrong triumphs over right as much as right over wrong. Sometimes its triumphs are greater. What happens ultimately, you do not know. In such circumstances what can you do but cultivate an utter indifference to all values?" (172) Iqbal seeks to reconcile with himself his lack of action, and wanders off into the world, now with no convictions, his previous vehement indifference failing him, and his essential identity serving only to protect him superficially, without the protection of the "right" of godly decision making Iqbal settles for a listless indifference, sleeping through the moment of prayer that reminds the world of God's right to create diversity and be the judge of misdeeds. (173)

In the even more profound Survival in Auschwitz Levi clearly defines how each individual, depending upon identity survived within the confines of the work camps. Within Levi's comprehensive if narrowed (based upon the lack of mobility and communication in the camps) describes for instance the Greek, shopkeepers, leaders of the black market with the most decisive ability to develop covert black market trades in the camps. Levi first describes how the root of most of the "economic" words were Greek in origin and that the Greeks,

These few survivors from the Jewish colony of Salonica, with their languages, Spanish and Greek, and their numerous activities...That this wisdom was transformed in the camp into the systematic and scientific practice of theft and seizure of positions and monopoly of the bargaining Market, should not let one forget6 that their aversion to gratuitous brutality, their amazing consciousness of the survival of at least the potential human dignity made of the Greeks the most coherent national nucleus in Lager, and in this respect, the most civilized." (Levi 79)

It was beyond their ability to choose their origin of birth but as with the main character, the "Italian of Jewish race" as he calls himself upon capture from his rebel camp, in hopes of certain execution, instead to find himself deported to Auschwitz. There is a sense throughout the work that Primo has a sense of objectivity that is born of brilliance, and that allows him to describe in great detail what it was like to know that this would likely be the end of your life, the place and lifestyle that is your last, completely without choice. The multinational identities of the captured is essential as Primo wonders if he will ever see the first Italian place names reappear in a return to Italy or if he will like so many others never see his home again. (17) Primo's assertion of being of Jewish heritage sealed his fate, with the fate of so many others. He had no choice in the matter, the same as he or the Greek's had no choice in their nation of birth an issue that became paramount to survival and pecking order within the camps. As is the status of being a non-Jew, the "criminal" dentist gives testament to the characteristic pecking order, for which the Jews are squarely on the bottom. There is also a clear sense that the criminal is sent to the new inhabitants to calm them, regarding what life will be like for them here. He speaks of football games and concerts of the fact that the women are safe and well and will be seen by the men soon... all stretches of the truth, and the likely reason for the "health" of the criminal, as he has chosen to be an agent of the SS. (25) Primo was clear from the beginning that the condemned man and/or woman in the earliest recognition of what was to come at the place called Auschwitz was grieving his or her own death, lacking the appropriate ceremony of the dying, "but to us this was not granted. For we were many and time was short. And in any case, what had we to repent, for what crime did we need pardon?" (15) Finally the most logical definition of how Primo and many others conceived of their uncontrollable situation one must look to the separation between the civilians and the Jews in the camp and how each had a completely different outlook, as one knew that he or she if a subject of good fortune and follower… [END OF PREVIEW]

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