Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Perhaps Arthur’s statement is what prompts Simon to write the book and to open up his question to the readers after the end of the Holocaust, and why Simon presumably includes responses from people of different faiths. In The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal writes of an incident that occurred during the time he was a concentration camp inmate. . My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class.”, LitCharts uses cookies to personalize our services. .". The book opens in a Nazi concentration camp where Simon is working along with his friends Arthur, Josek, and Adam. The fly in a way represents Karl’s guilty conscience in the face of death, and Simon is able to alleviate it somewhat through his small acts of kindness, if not through explicit forgiveness. . Was my silence at the bedside of the dying Nazi right or wrong? They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. . Simon once again shows a great deal of empathy toward Karl in attempting to get a fuller picture of his life, and in investigating further whether Simon did him an injustice by not forgiving him. When they did, the children were promptly taken to the gas chambers. Some believe that repentance alone does not justify forgiveness, and that Karl demonstrated his anti-Semitism by asking a random Jew for forgiveness, as if all Jews are an undifferentiated mass rather than a diverse group composed of individuals. The next two years are filled with death and hunger. There were a hundred and fifty of them or perhaps two hundred, including many children who stared at us with anxious eyes. Simon then asks the readers what they would have done in his place. Simon is liberated from the Mauthausen camp in 1945, and one afternoon is reminded of Karl by a sunflower. . It is also evident that Simon’s conflict comes from the fact that he is constantly being dehumanized, which supports the idea that those who have lost their humanity also have a difficult time maintaining their faith, and that humanity is inherently linked to faith in some way. I must tell you of this horrible deed - tell you because . Here Karl has sympathy for the individual Jews with whom he is familiar, but the Nazi generalizations and stereotypes, on the other hand, make it easy to marginalize people. The next day, Simon returns to the hospital. This tale of the SS lieutenant who had been a violinist before the war demonstrates that it is truly the Germans who have lost their humanity. The German anti-Semitism extends past the Nazis, as the ethnic Poles, and Ukrainians feel secure as long as there are other people who can be treated worse than they are, and thus they are silent towards the Nazi regime’s violent oppression of Jews. A truck arrived with cans of petrol which we unloaded and took into a house . Our, “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. By his side stood a woman, doubtless the mother of the child. Yet, in Simon’s religion, he cannot grant this forgiveness. She brings him to the bedside of a dying Nazi soldier named Karl, who is bandaged from head to toe. She tells him about Karl, confirming Karl’s own story about his childhood. He tells his friends, who have become disinterested in the story. 1). Eventually the Germans withdraw from Lemberg and the camp is evacuated. LIBRARY. . Cain killed Abel. The door was then locked and a machine gun posted outside the door. It is notable that in the confines of Nazi Germany, even these small acts of kindness are spurred largely from a sense of the Germans’ superiority and self-interest. We shot . you are a Jew." RESOURCES. Even though many others justify his choice, Simon’s primary motivation to leave seems to stem from a willingness to provide compassion, but an inability to forgive Karl in the name of others and a God of which he was deeply unsure. That was the last time his father spoke to him. . Simon’s thought process here encapsulates some of his inner conflict about Karl: he empathizes with him, but he does not want to forgive him at the expense of Jews that he did not know. . Otherwise I cannot die in peace . The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of. In a way, this book is Simon’s way of maintaining Arthur’s memory and the memory of so many others who were murdered during the Holocaust. In The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal writes of an incident that occurred during the time he was a concentration camp inmate. They had offered the prophet customary wine, but he had not protected the Jewish children who are now dying in concentration camps. The passerby’s transformation implies that the more anti-Semitic one is, the more German one is. Yet, most of the respondents agree on two ideas: first, that even if these crimes are forgiven, they should never be forgotten; and second, that even if Simon did not explicitly forgive Karl, he acted with an immense amount of compassion given his circumstances. Karl’s first description makes Simon’s compassion even more remarkable. The crux of the matter is, of course, the question of forgiveness. In a way, these two represent the dual sides of Simon’s conscience: one telling him to forgive, and the other not to. . Simon does not say anything, and then walks out of the room. The Sunflower is about forgiveness and the incredibly complex questions that come with it. Our, LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in. Some of the Buddhist respondents later say that lessening suffering makes any act justifiable. Whereas before Simon had been haunted by the memory of Eli, here he is haunted by the memory of Karl. He argues that Simon provided Karl with a great deal of comfort, and knows that forgiveness would be asking too much. Perhaps Karl understood that he would be easily forgiven by a Catholic priest, but it would be much harder to earn forgiveness from Simon. Questioning Karl’s own moral belief also begs the question: if one acts so immorally, does their belief in God matter? Those who argue in favor of forgiving (most of whom are Christian) argue that there is no limit to forgiveness. It is also worth noting that Karl’s motivations for joining the SS are never truly explained, leaving many of the respondents wondering how he volunteered to be complicit in the system. . The respondents draw mostly on their religious upbringing to answer Simon’s question, and some patterns emerge in the responses. Search all of SparkNotes Search. The police, who could not interfere in the school without permission, also stood outside. As they worked, a nurse came up to Simon and asked, "Are you a Jew?" This is one of the only times in which a soldier is truly sympathetic toward the Jews and attempts to ameliorate their situation. Karl then asks Simon to forgive him for the crimes he has committed so that he can die in peace. The second section of the book, entitled “The Symposium,” consists of fifty-three responses to his question. Suggest a Title. When we were told that everything was ready, we went back a few yards, and then received the command to remove safety pins from hand grenades and throw them through the windows of the house . . . Throughout the remainder of the novel, sunflowers will be an important symbol of the importance of recognizing the humanity in others. Karl joined the Hitler Youth and later volunteered for the SS. It is neither infrequent nor extraordinary. By posing the question to the reader, Simon allows for a variety of perspectives, often based on the religion of the respondent. Simon’s journey through the town reminds the reader that the daily lives and careers of those targeted by the Nazis have been interrupted, and they no longer have the basic human rights of freedom and self-determination. The work there is not easy, but Simon had felt free to an extent, as he did not need to return to the camp each night. Bolek argues that Simon should have forgiven Karl because Karl had no one else to ask. Teachers and parents! That morning, Simon is separated from his friends and selected to work in a makeshift hospital which has been set up in the Technical School where Simon studied architecture. Arthur’s argument lacks one realization: that Simon has agency in lessening Karl’s suffering, but not in helping other Jews. Simon’s story reminds readers that anti-Semitism was not a German invention; the Nazis had merely exploited the existing bias of much of Europe in order to carry out their plans. The thought flashed through my mind . The man in question is Aeneas, who is fleeing the ruins of his native city, Troy, which has been ravaged in a … In creating a common enemy in the Jews, the Germans were then able to annex Poland without any protest from the non-Jewish Polish population. The Jews’ mistreatment and dehumanization becomes so severe that they are reduced to eating grass like animals, even with the knowledge that it might kill them. The symbol of the sunflower returns as Simon sees the injustice in the fact that, regardless of the magnitude of this soldier’s crime, he would still be remembered and honored.

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