“No difficulty can discourage, no obstacle dismay, no trouble dishearten the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Difficulties are but dares of fate, obstacles but hurdles to try his skill, troubles but bitter tonics to give him strength, and he rises higher and looms greater after each encounter with adversity.” This quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox means that adversity gives you strength to continue to beat the odds. You should not stop in the face of adversity but rather overcome adversity. People all over the world always face adversity whether it is poverty, discrimination, malnutrition, or disease and disorders. The Holocaust exemplifies a prime example of people overcoming adversity. The Jewish community faced countless horrors and there was not one moment where they did not fear for their lives and although six million lost their lives, 12 million overcame adversity and survived. We are shown countless moments of overcoming adversity in Schindler’s List, The Book Thief and, Night, and figurative language is used throughout to aid the reader or viewer to really grasp the situation.
The Book Thief takes place in Nazi Germany and is narrated by Death’s encounters with The Book Thief, Liesel Meminger. The book thief is a book full of overcoming adversity, Whether it was Liesel learning to read, Max hiding from the Nazi’s or Rosa losing all of her customers. In The Book Thief Death states “She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground. It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on…”(Zusak 536). In this statement Death is perplexed by the strength of the human soul to overcome such adversity and to aid us in picturing what is going on, he compares Liesel’s tears to streams and tells us that for a brief period of time she could not bring herself to get off the ground. Liesel was able to push herself through and survive through all of this even after the death of everyone she truly loved. Additionally, earlier in the Book thief Liesel is made fun of because of her illiteracy. Early in the book, it is stated “she was cast down with the younger kids, who were only just learning the alphabet—she felt gigantic among the midget children”(Zusak 39) Liesel started out at the very bottom because she had such poor reading skills. However, after much practice and reading with Hans she begins to learn to read. Eventually, Liesel was able to slowly gather confidence, and she picked up a stray textbook before class one morning and, read every word. (Zusak 87) Liesel is a prime example of someone who can overcome an incredible amount of adversity. Liesel refused to give up and sure enough, she beat the odds. Overall, showing a major theme in the book thief was overcoming adversity.
Schindler’s List leads us through the life of Oskar Schindler during the Nazi Germany period. A Nazi himself he is struck with horror by the treatment of the Jewish Community and goes from a man using war for profit to secretly helping save Jews by the hundreds. Schindler’s list is stocked full of scenes where adversity had been beaten. One such scene that contributes to the theme of overcoming adversity is when Oskar states “Tomorrow you’ll begin the process of looking for survivors of your families. In most cases… you won’t find them. After six long years of murder, victims are being mourned throughout the world. We’ve survived. Many of you have come up to me and thanked me. Thank yourselves. Thank your fearless Stern, and others among you who worried about you and faced death at every moment” (Schindler’s List). This scene is accommodated by an intense silence, this technique effectively helping push the picture of the struggles these survivors had faced. These men and woman made it. These men and women bested the odds. These men and women survived one of the most horrific historical moments of all time. These men and women survived the Holocaust. They faced adversity head on and they survived. The ending of this film most certainly showed that a major theme in Schindler’s list was overcoming adversity.
Night brings us through a detailed description of the horrors Elie Wiesel faced during his time in the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel continuously fought and bested adversity throughout his experience of the Holocaust. One incredible feat Elie pulled off was surviving despite having a foot infection. “ I must have an operation! If we waited, the toes- and perhaps the whole leg- would have to be amputated”(Wiesel 74). It was vital that Elie have foot surgery and he managed to survive despite his situation. The odds of him being selected had increasingly grown due to the infection and the possibility of losing his leg and yet he still pushed through and survived, effectively punching adversity in the face. Adversity is overcome once again in Night when Elie manages to get along even after the separation of his family. “Yet that was the moment I left my mother … In a fraction of a second I could see my mother, my sisters, move to the right … I didn’t know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever… My hand tightened its grip on my father. All I could think about was not to lose him. Not to remain alone” (Wiesel 29-30). We have to remember that Elie is only 15 well this is all happening, This is an incredibly young age to have to cope and go through these struggles. Elie did something that most people his age would most likely not. Elie was able to get through all these horrors of the Holocaust without anyone in his family besides his father, who would eventually pass. Elie also effectively helped us picture the grief in this moment by adding multiple pauses between sentences. These two situations Elie faced provides more than enough support to show that overcoming adversity is a unifying theme for these three sources.
Elie Wiesel, Liesel Meminger, and the Schindler Jews all managed to cope with the difficulties they were presented and had to face. They all faced adversity and they all bested adversity. Both novels and the movie were stocked full of moments where adversity played a role. Therefore, It is quite clear that in Night, Schindler’s List, and The Book Thief a unifying theme is that in all three of these adversity is overcome. When adversity is faced, you always come out stronger than before and that is what they did.
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