Mentalities in Transition: Character Analysis in “Away” and “Schindler’s List”
Transitions are made in moments of realisation that are taken up by characters in texts. These moments of realisation allows said characters to undergo transitions that affect their actions, thoughts and feelings. In Michael Gow’s “Away” the characters Gwen and Coral originally face behavioural problems. Gwen, who is materialistic, tries to maintain high living standards. It is later that Gwen becomes more aware of the effect of her behaviour and finds the true meaning to life. Coral is still in mourning with the loss of her son in Vietnam. As the story progresses, Coral takes steps that will lead up to the deterioration of her social awkwardness and the rebirth of her normality as a social human being. Transition is also seen in Steven Speilberg’s film “Schindler’s list,” where Nazi war profiteer Oskar Schindler is also materialistic and greedy, with desires of self interest. Due to certain events, Schindler starts to transition to someone who values human life and is no longer blinded by only his wealth and self interest. At the end, Schindler understands that human life is invaluable.
Over time, transitions are developed in Gwen to change her from her materialistic self. Her materialistic attitude is derived from her previous social class which was working class. An allusion is used to show her determination to peruse a better life. “As god is my witness, I will never go hungry again,” from this moment on, she has developed the drive to pursue a life of plenty. With her new status as high class, she looks down on those that have not done the same as her and therefore seeing the low class as lazy or undetermined. A negative tone is used against Harry who is of lower class to boast and flaunt their wealth. “We’ve got a new caravan, everything you want,” Gwen looks down on all those that are of low class due to her belief that people in said class lack determination or desire to change it. Gwen’s moment of realisation comes and is represented by stage play during a storm. “Jim, Meg and Gwen are driven out by the fairies, who wreak havoc with noise, light and frenzied activity.” Due to the storm, Gwen and her family are forced to leave their possessions behind. The storm not only destroys Gwen’s possessions but also her belief that materialism is a necessity in life. Realisation and reflection is finally through rhetorical question in “What do you think of me? Why do you hate me? Why do you bother? Sorry.” Gwen has reflected on her past attitudes and personality and the effect it had in interaction with others. She is therefore regretful with her rhetorical questions.
Coral is another character from Gow’s “Away” who also experiences transitions from her personal issues. These issues are heavy depression and isolation. A metaphor is first used to present the issues of depression and isolation that Coral faces. “You wander around with that smile staring into the distance, not seeing anyone, ignoring people,” Coral has shut herself away from everyone but tries to act normal with a smile. However, she still thinks about her son which is why she stares into the distance. Overtime, she is able to commune with others and starts to improve her social skills. Using an excited tone, “I’m doing well aren’t I? I’ve started taking such an interest in the world around me,” presents to readers that Coral is recovering and is training herself in her social skills so that she may be able to rejoin society. Her full transition is presented with the use of repetition. “I’m walking, I’m walking,” Coral is taking her steps to rejoining society and is at the point of a recovery. With this recovery, she is able to get over her son and accept her loss but not linger on it.
In Speilberg’s film, “Schindler’s list” the protagonist, Oskar Schindler is a Nazi businessman of refined tastes. Symbolism is used to symbolise his materialism as viewers are presented with images of his expensive clothes, money and tie pins etc along with the infamous Nazi Swastika. Transition is slowly developed as symbolism is used a second time in his possessions being given away to secure bribes for Jews facing execution. However, they must perform in his factory showing that he cares not for lives but only for production and money. Transitions of sympathy and compassion are made in the scene where Schindler and Stern confront each other on their positions about Goeth, a Nazi executioner and officer. Non-diegetic sounds of soft guitar cords playing the theme song are heard to represent a transition in Schinder. Soon after this, he decides to save Mr and Mrs Perlman out of sympathy that they might be next targets.
In the final scene, WWII is over. Schindler’s full transition allows him to come to realisation that life is invaluable. Repetition is used to present the final transition, ”I could have got more.” With a regretful tone, Schindler realises that if he worked harder and had sold his possessions, there might have been more Jews saved and working in his munitions factory. This is accompanied by diegetic sound of his cries and tears to further reinforce his regret.
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