A Family Occupation by Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

By Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Many of modern Dutch writers have been kids in the course of global struggle II. Even this present day, the annoying formative years event of enemy profession continues to be valuable to the paintings of a lot of them. This curiosity cuts around the conventional barriers among fiction, autobiography and the literature of trauma and restoration. A relatives Occupation is the 1st English-language creation to Dutch-language texts written by means of and in regards to the 'Children of the battle' and their cultural context. Their issues and literary conventions throw an attractive mild at the Dutch method of concerns resembling guilt and innocence, reminiscence and narrative, nationwide identification, baby abuse and victimhood.

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The main character in this text is a victim in his own right, and one is not explicitly invited to discount his suffering because others have suffered more. Nevertheless, while the text does mention the suffering of a collaborator’s child, the narration does not dwell on his experience; and the protagonist, Anton, is too involved in his own suffering to extend much sympathy to the other. 3 Mulisch’s narrator tells the story of Anton Steenwijk, a young boy whose life is completely changed by a single, apparently random, event.

A family occupation episode one: humanist values, agency and fate 25 The narrator immediately alerts the reader to the symbol of the stone which serves a central interpretive function in the story. Just before the assault, Mr. Steenwijk5 is tutoring his elder son, Peter, in the classics, which precipitates the following exchange: “…Remember the word ‘symbol’, which comes from symballo, ‘to bring together’, ‘to meet’. ” “No,” said Peter in a tone implying that he couldn’t care less. ” asked Anton.

It is true that the house had been burned down and never rebuilt, but the text also makes it clear to the reader that the neighbors’ houses are still there, and still occupied. To the newer neighbors, the lot where Anton’s house used to stand is just that: an empty lot in the middle of their neighborhood. The ruins – ashes, really – may remind Mrs. Beumer of Anton and his family, and thus of the events of the occupation, but the neighbors have continued to build their lives, despite and around the empty lot, which is a monument to the events which took place during the occupation.

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