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Oskar Schindler and Philip Rhayder are Unlikely Heroes

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  • Pages: 11
  • Word count: 2699
  • Category: Hero

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A hero is defined as someone who acts out for others. The dictionary describes a hero as a person noted or admired for courage or outstanding achievements. A hero is typically seen as a non fictional character who protects the vulnerable with super natural powers and courage and can do no wrong . There are also some important figures in life associated as being a “hero” someone like Mahatma Gandhi who spoke out for millions of people using non violent campaigns for Indian independence. From this we can see that Oskar Schindler has been portrayed as an unlikely hero since he has neither the characteristics or qualities of a hero since he has a drinking problem as well as committing adultery regularly. Paul Gallico on the other hand has moulded his character into someone who doesn’t open up to people , a social recluse, again Rhayader, like Schindler, doesn’t seem to have the characteristics nor the looks of a hero.

The settings for both characters are focal points for them to shine and become heroes since both are set during the second world war in which heroic deeds may stand out during a time of need. Schindler was at the heart of the war, in which he was exposed to violent and aggressive behaviour everyday. Gallico chose Rhayder to be isolated from the war so it could be based around a man who overcomes his problem to care about another and becomes a hero in his own right. During the prologue Schindler shows signs of a heroic nature when he is at the dinner party of Amon Goeth, in which he sees the Jewish servant being mistreated and makes it his business to intervene. “He felt some small pity for these Cracow working girls, since he knew that later, when the slap and tickle began, the slap might leave welts and the tickle gouge the flesh” Keneally has approached this in a very direct attitude as he wants the reader to see that it is building up and the character of Schindler is getting stronger throughout the novel. Schindler is also portrayed different to that of Goeth, since he doesn’t abuse his powers unlike many others in the same position.

“For he was a hunchback and his left arm was crippled, thin and bent at the wrist, like the claw of a bird.” This isn’t the best method to be introduced to a hero, Gallico has presented this at the start of the text for the reader to have his doubts about the central character and not to build up any expectations. It is written in a style to confuse and in a way to slightly shock. Since Rhayder is isolated from civilisation he has no one to care for and the only way he expresses himself is through his paintings. Unlike Rhayader, Schindler is very sociable and is liked by many, he has no problem mixing with the nazi party as he sees it as a business deal. He is described as a failure in business and has moved to Poland hoping for one last chance to make a success Both characters appear to have the main role in the texts. This is so they can be presented more like heroes and the authors for both texts believe it would be easier to make the main character appear as a hero than a background one.

An example of this how Keneally portrays Schindler in a way in which the reader can relate to him as a normal person with faluts. Being the centre point allows more time to go in depth in descriptions of appearances and emotions. This allows Schindler to appear to have mixed feelings about many situations, as he does throughout the novel, making him a complex character. An example of this is at the start of the novel Amon Goeth and Oskar Schindler are friends but as the story progresses they both choose different paths. Keneally starts to symbolise this as an epic tale of good versus evil in which good shall prevail. In both novels the use of real names and places affects the mood of story telling since it keeps the audience keen about the historic importance. This is a method both Keanelly and Gallico use effectively since the locations used are real places. Using Dunkirk to set the location was important for the whole story to come together since Gallico really only used two characters throughout the text which makes the audience think how can a hero be made with just two characters.

This is entirely different to Schindler since he has been located in Nazi-occupied Polish city of Cracow in which there are thousands of vulnerable Jews who need a saviour. This is one of the primary reasons why Schindlers a profiteer from the war (who at the start of the novel doesnt care about the jews) has been described as an “unlikely hero”. The war itself was a major benefactor for both characters especially Rhayader to look like a martyr. The authors used the war in both texts differently to each other, in Schindlers Ark, Keneally used it as a ever presence evil which you couldn’t escape from. “At night the Ukrainians took them away in barrows and buried them in the woods on the far side.” Unlike Keneally, Gallico didn’t use the direct format to describe the war for many reasons since his character was first of all almost blind to the war even taking place also he was isolated from any realities of the war. Instead he used its a backdrop in which the audience was only told of the war through stories an example of this is when Rhayder has to leave in his boat because he has heard that British Soldiers are trapped and need his help.

The violence in the war is a way in which Keneally shows how his characters react to aggressive behaviour and violent situations. An example of this is when Amon Goeth is described killing inmates the camp from the balcony of his villa the Jews mean nothing to him, he just sees them as targets to improve his shooting accuracy. Violence is not used at all in “The Snow Goose” this is probably again due to Rhayders isolation from the world and so he wouldn’t experience this. Gallico has written a war story without any violence but instead he has shown some positive themes that may come out of a war. Keneally uses love as a more complex theme throughout his story this is because unlike Schindler, Rhayader had not been cared for by anyone throughout his life, Keneally uses the goose as a symbol of unity in which the goose unites two different kinds of people together . “She was no more than twelve, slender, nervous and timid as a bird, but beneath the grime as eerily beautiful as a marsh faery” Gallico shows that the girl was “desperately frightened of the ugly man” using simple language the writer presumes the audience will relate to what the girl is witnessing infront of her.

This is the first scene in which all three characters are together and as the years go bye it stays like that. Since Rhayader has never loved or been loved he doesn’t know how to deal with the emotions he is feeling. This allows Gallico to portray the goose as a go between for both characters to show there affection through the goose this also true for Keneally towards the end of the novel in which the Jews show there affection towards Schindler through making him a gold ring. Keneally also uses the ring as a sign of affection and that of the lives Schindler has saved from almost certain death. Symbolism is a constant emphasis throughout the text because it can stand not for a single reason but a whole variety . An example of this is Helen Hirsch in which Schindler wins her in a game of blackjack from Amon Goeth. This symbolises a triumph victory of good over evil also it shows that he has saved a life. Another factor of both texts is the narrative styles used throughout, Gallico uses the simple context of third person narrative without changing.

He may have done this to almost shut off the audience with reacting to what is going on around them. The written style is very simple and in some parts of the text it appears to be very effective, the language used is poetic which allows characters like Rhayader to express their feeling e.g. Through his paintings of all kinds of birds he has seen during the time he has spent at the abounded lighthouse. Keneally on the other hand uses all three narrative styles throughout the novel his style is similar to that of the famous film maker Quentin Tarantino in which he allows the audience to believe they are there but cannot react with any of the characters but instead they can only witness the events which are going around. This is much more effective way to keep the audiences suspense and it is a much more dramatic climax in which to build a super hero status for a character which such qualities like Schindler shows.

Being an “Unlikely Hero” in Rhayders case is true since he is physically deformed and the audience are not expecting a loner to achieve anything miraculous to that of a fictional super hero. Also Rhayder isn’t able to communicate with others very well so he isn’t the ideal hero which the audience would picture. In the 1993 hit movie “Schindlers List” directed by Steven Spielberg , Schindler appears to be a hero in his own right, since he lives in a world in which violence is a common problem in the streets of Cracow. Like in the novel Spielberg shows that Schindler had some qualities which flourished and which abled him to be labelled as a hero. This can be witnessed in the scene where Stern is being transported to a concentration camp in which death awaits him, Schindler manages to save him by bullying the guards into letting him go. There could be two motifs for Schindlers actions which are first that he needed Stern to guide his factory into making a profit so Schindler could be remembered as a success in the business field.

The second could be that he has started to realise it is he who can save all his people from death. Like the film the novel is slightly like the characterisation of Schindler, in which he continues to grow wiser and begins to act out more like a modern day hero of that nature would. This can be seen through his affection towards his wife Emilie, during the start of the novel he does not care much for her, but as it continues the theme of love starts to grow, Schindler stops drinking and being a womaniser, he is able to see that there is more of a reason he came to Cracow than just being a war profiteer. Rhayder also grows as a character in the sense he begins to feel love and is loved back by Frith, we can see that Gallico had always described Rhayader as affectionate but that side of him was only shown towards his paintings and birds he kept, but not to another human being. The importance of the goose (like Stern for Schindler) allows Rhayder to open up to Frith, and he isn’t a social recluse due to the goose. Again this relationship only occurs between the two when the goose is at the lighthouse and when she isn’t neither is Frith. In both novels the theme of love is strongly linked to the characters becoming heroes, in doing this the authors show that the herioc acts that occured by both characters were done through love.

Schindler is seen differently to Rhayader because at the end of the novel he is shown affection by the Jews he had saved. This is something Rhayader was unable to feel although he went to save the soldiers he was never praised by anyone except the narrator. He was never really appreciated even by Frith whom only found out they were in love when they were finally separated at the end of the novel. Gallico seems to have done this to make the text appear as a tragic war story, in a way it finishes off how it started in which Rhayder is by himself where no body knows, He becomes the unsung hero of the war. Gallico purposely makes Rhayder perish away without a sign for his heroic deeds . Since Schindler is in a place( Cracow) in which violence is an everyday occurrence it was waiting for a hero to be made. This is a major advantage for Keneally because it is easier for the characterisation of Schindler to appear as a hero in a world which has many villains.

In “The Snow Goose” although this text is set in war time Rhayader is isolated unlike Schindler who is based in the middle of all the trouble. As seen in the movie Schindler had a grave in which thousands of the Jews he had saved came back to show there affection by each placing a stone by his grave as a tribute for his heroic and selfless act. Like at the end of the novel Schindler is considered a true hero unlike Rhayader who vanishes without a trace along with his Lighthouse which was blown up by a German pilot after being mistaken for an active military objective. Altogether the term “Unlikely Hero” describes both Rhayader and Schindler correctly because they didn’t have the looks, characteristics and objectives a fictional hero would have but they are only human and many real modern day heroes have had flaws in their characteristics. Being isolated from people and the war itself left Rhayader an unsung hero in many terms since he wasn’t recognised like Schindler for saving the lives of the British soldiers who were trapped on the coast. Both were again unlikely heroes because they did not seem capable of what they achieved at the end of the both texts.

There are also motifs which could be justified as for personal gain in the case of Schindler employing Stern not to save him from being prisoner at a concentration camp instead he is using him to make sure the factory gains a profit and will allow Schindler to become a success in business for the firs time in his life. Another flaw in Schindlers Character is him abandoning his wife in Germany while Schindler lives the high life in Poland, drinking every night and sleeping around. Rhayader also doesn’t seem to be an ideal hero since he has a deformity which prevents him from making the same kind of impression a hero would in his same situation. On the other hand both characters are not unlikely heroes because the situation they were put under allowed them to appear and shine as a hero and in both cases it was the war in which they sacrificed themselves to help others in their time of need.

It seemed both characters had grown throughout the texts which allowed them to become heroes in other peoples eyes. Since both characters were based in real places it was more effective due to the audience being able to relate with it and recognise what both characters went through. Schindler seems to be the character that stands out the most since he is the character who was the villains turned saviour, because of this the heroic deeds he had done seemed to wipe away his intentions he had left Germany for, at first he had seen the Jewish workers as just a way to make profit but at the end he respected them enough to sacrifice everything he had. “He who saves one life saves the entire world” This quotation is an important one to describe Schindlers courage and heroic acts towards all the Jews he had saved.

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