Streetcar Essay, Research Paper

Age of Wonders Essay

The book Age of Wonders is an excellent example in portraying the crisis of not only the

European civilization but also racism which still very abundant in today?s society. The author is

trying to send a strong message that racism is indeed wrong, and only through education will

people know that. Using his own experiences with racism he decided to bring the reader back

into time to about World War II. There he shows the misconceptions placed upon different

ethinic groups, and at a time were racism was so strong that it could be the reason to kill an

innocent person.

The story Age of Wonders is seen through the eyes of a small boy named Bruno. He was

the only child in the family until later on they adopted a little girl whom they named Helga. The

mother had tried to do her best to raise her children, she did a lot of work around the house and

tutored her children with their schoolwork. It was not homework that the mother often helped

her children in but also many lessons in life. The father was hardly around to see the children due

to his devotion to writing and constant troubles with the law, ?I?ll sue each and one of those

damn journalists!? pg.. 153. The mother in turn sacrificed her time to make sure her children

would be set straight. She taught them how to conduct themselves properly, and taught them

how to take care of themselves knowing someday she would not be around. Perhaps the most

important lesson though was that of treating others equally. She constantly reminded them that

one should not judge another by what they see on the outside but instead by their content of their

character. ?Judge not by the appearance of a an individual, instead look at how they are? pg.. 54.

Bruno was still a small child, about ten years old and he was just beginning to understand the

concept of racism. He recalls that he often faced a lot of racism up close, getting put-down

because of his ethnic background and being mistreated.

At the time there were many misconceptions about Jewish people. They were considered

to be stealers, liars and cheaters. These theories became so blown out of proportion that

whenever they saw a Jewish person would assume that. People are afraid of the unknown, and it

is because of this that people spread rumors and distrust amongst people. Corrupting our

thoughts and reasons, we are used to thinking that the differences are okay. Amongst smaller

kids, there is no difficulty in getting them to all play together. Their thoughts are not yet as

corrupted as others. There is an example of this in the book between Helga and her friends.

Before when she went to school she had no problem getting along with the other students. Once

they Found out that she was Jewish and she had such a deranged father they began to set barriers

towards her. At first she would wonder why they were not talking to her, but she later found out

it was because they were racist when they swore at her and called her a Jew. When Helga came

home later that day her mother asked her what had happened because her hair became tangled,

face scratched, and satchel torn. She went on to tell her mother that because they called her a

Jew she fought them. The mother sensing that this was a good opportunity to teach her a

valuable lesson said: ?This is not the way to behave, Helga. That is not how we expect

people to behave here.? pg. 160.

Another message that the author is trying to send is that quite often or not we take racism

for granted. It is often overlooked and not considered to be a very important issue at all. Even in

today’s society when we hear a racial slur, oh well, it’s just a joke. It is not a joke but people use

that excuse to make it seem as if it?s not a major problem. Instead, the truth is those racist jokes

and slurs are the start of it. When Bruno was a small child he was constantly being exposed to

racism that he eventually became used to it. In fact, at that time Jewish people were being treated

so badly that Bruno?s very own father at one point said: ?my Jewishness means nothing to me?

pg. 85. His very own father had become disgraced of his own background and quite often told

people that he was Austrian so that he would not have to be embarrassed. The fact that he tried

to hide his true identity would eventually lead to his own undoing because he was being

constantly criticized viciously on his writing and character until it made him go insane. He left the

family, disappearing because of disgrace and deranged, more ruined than the ones that remained.

The fact is that none enjoys the fact of being put down because of the colour of their skin or

because of the religion they believe in. The Jewish and Germans didn?t get along for this reason

because of all the stereotypes and labels placed on each different race. If you look beyond skin

deep does each person no matter what race think the same? have the same feelings? are they not

made from flesh and blood?

The author also points out that some of the worst racists are the ones who

think that they are not racist and really are. They really have to come to grips with reality. Why

are they some of the worst racists? They are, because they cannot comprehend what is happening.

Bruno?s father was a prime example of this. Although through his life he repeatedly criticized

other people for being he forgot to mention that he himself held many dislikes for certain races.

There was a good example in the book when he found out that his sisters daughters had married

gentiles and converted. He said ?God would not forgive them. How could he possibly forgive

them?? pg. 48. Like many people in his time Bruno?s father had become assimilated into the

belief that it was okay for him to be racist to others but not the other way around. People like this

do not even realize what they are saying and doing are racist. The question here has always been

how can someone make a judgment on another without knowing a thing about them. No one

deserves to be prejudged like that. There may be the odd one here and there amongst a race who

are not good people and rob, cheat, and steal. How can a person with little or no knowledge of

another individual then make a judgment and automatically assume every one of that entire race is

just the same. For example how can I say that all black people steal? The reason people think

like this is because they may have had bad experienced before or I have heard from other people

that this is what they think. For Bruno he was mislead first by his father and then second through

bad experiences. Recall that as a child he didn?t know anything about racism or prejudice but

slowly as he grew up he began to learn and begin building certain barriers between people. The

prejudice of people in the world is disgusting. The worst part of it all is that they do not even

know they are doing it. They think it’s just normal behavior. It does not even phase them when

they do it.

No doubt, at some point or another we have all been racist, but this term racism has been

used too loosely. Racism has been mutated to such an extent that it could be a reason for war, a

symbol of terrorism, and even an excuse for neglecting. In World War II many innocent Jewish

people were infact put to horrible deaths through the use of gas chambers and other methods of

torture. A lot of us don?t usually spend time to sit down and think about topics such as these but

it?s a sad and true reality. That quite often racial minorities such as the Jewish in the war had to

face many inequities. I have always been true to the saying that ?If you are not part of the

solution you are part of the problem.? People who do not see that racism is a problem are almost

as bad as the racists themselves. This is why we have to take action to learn from our mistakes

that we have made. There is hope out there, because no matter how racist a person is it can

always be cured. A good example of this is Bruno who became very racist, and had a short and

violent temper. He almost killed a German guard patrolling a train station once because of the

remarks he made about him. ?I hate Jew?s all they do is steal from others!? Page 112.

Sometimes the results are quicker than others and still sometimes in the end it doesn?t work at all.

If everyone makes a decent effort though then maybe this world would be a much more loving

and caring place.

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