Page 24 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
world and into the heart of every man. It is his own complicity
with murder, even the murders he did not commit with his own
hand, the murders, however, from which he profited if only by
having survived.” Indeed,
A fter the Fall
was originally subtitled
The Survivor.
What appears to propel Quentin is his self-assumed
guilt for having survived, the knowledge that in his survival is a
facet of joy at the accident of birth which allowed him to escape
the mass machinery of death that claimed his brothers. But he
revives the major experiences of his life in the dense shadow of the
concentration camp “. . . dominating the stage, is the blasted stone
tower of a German concentration camp. Its wide lookout windows
are like eyes which at the moment seem blind and dark, bent
reinforcing rods sticking out of it, like broken tentacles.” Inter-
mittently, as Quentin embarks upon the searching pilgrimage of
his truth, the tower lights. He is unaccountably nervous, though
not visibly distressed when he visits the camp with a young German
girl; he is more amazed at his lack of feeling: “I guess I thought
I'd be indignant or angry but its like swallowing a lump of earth.
It’s strange.”
Hochhuth, in
The Depu ty,
paralleled Quentin’s inability to
feel when he noted that the immensity of the process, coupled with
its absolute reality, went beyond the abilities of human compre-
hension. Interestingly, Quentin recalls a similar inability to mourn
his dead mother. He describes himself as a mirror, and the ceme-
tery in which she lay buried as a field of buried mirrors, an image
which invigorates the play far more than has been previously
noted. He asks Holga, the German girl, why she keeps coming
back. She replies, “I don’t know. Perhaps . . . because I didn’t die
here.” The mirror self-reflects; the camp becomes Quentin's
cemetery. He may mourn his brothers who died here but with the
peculiar comfort of tranquility in having survived. Uneasy,
Quentin asks if Holga feels some complicity in the exterminations
since she, being the apparent paradox of German and victim,
reflects his double identity of Jewrsurvivor. Holga replies “Quentin
. . . no one they didn’t kill can be innocent again.”
It would appear then that the forfeiture of innocence is a process
beginning with the recognition of man’s solitude in his desperate
need to survive and his horror in the guilt-pleasure which results
when survival is achieved amid the destruction of others. Holga
has consciously assumed and adjusted her burden in order to go
on living.
The Murder of Innocence
There is another kind of murder present here: the murder of
innocence in the wake of its betrayal, exemplified in the play as