Balek Scales Analysis

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Though sometimes restrained and concealed, truth manifests and perseveres due to the instinctive human commitment to divulge it. This idea is brilliantly examined and explored in Heinrich Böll’s “The Balek Scales” and R.K. Narayan’s “Like the Sun.” These stories, although culturally detached, describe the same innate, human desire for total certitude of the world around them. In “The Balek Scales,” a young boy in West Germany experiences the sensations brought about by the necessity of verity. Upon discovering the truth behind an oppressive illusion created by the aristocracy, the boy is determined to reveal its injustice. Similarly, in Narayan’s “Like the Sun,” a man decides to exhibit uninhibited candor for one day, no matter the consequences…show more content…
Led by Adolf Hitler, the Nazis exercised authoritative control over a mass of hard-working proletarians, specifically minorities. For a considerable amount of time, these minorities were used as scapegoats for German problems and were subject to extreme ostracization and brutal torture. As a German, Heinrich Böll felt a substantial amount of guilt on behalf of his country and the things its government had done (Schumaker). Additionally, he felt Germany’s morals were generally worsening (Reid) and thus sought to divulge the social tyranny of the aristocracy. Through his work, specifically “The Balek Scales,” Böll garnered a “solid reputation as ‘the good German’ who unambiguously criticised fascism,” (Reid). For example, Böll depicts the Baleks as an austere ruling family who exploit the commoners for their own benefit. Their policies were incontrovertible and suppressive in nature, such as the scales they used to manipulate the hard work of their people, (Böll). “No one was permitted to have scales in the house. The law was so ancient that nobody gave a thought as to when and how it had arisen, and it had to be obeyed.” (Böll) These statements are clear representations of how passionately Böll despised the fascist German government. He directly compares the Balek family to Nazi Germany as well as post-war German…show more content…
Clearly, truth was of the highest importance to Böll and he held in his heart great contempt for those who attempted to twist or alter it. From a very young age during World War II, Böll had a “strong opposition to the Nazis. Whenever possible, he avoided participating in the Hitler Youth.” (Michaels) Since then, the Nazis’ terrible oppressive and deceitful nature left a considerable mark on Böll and his outlook on his homeland. He believes Germany must never forget its horrific past, especially the treachery that was preached upon the general public during that time. Böll makes a clear comparison to this in “The Balek Scales.” When the protagonist of the short story reveals to his fellow proletarians that they were exploited by the Baleks, they begin repeatedly reciting, “The justice of this earth, O Lord, hath put Thee to death,”(Böll). Here, Böll highlights the sheer indignation the West German people felt when they learned of the injustice that had plagued their lives for so many years. When they discovered they had been lied to and taken advantage of, they completely detach themselves from those who lied to them, the Baleks. This showcases Böll’s observations that human beings strive for truth, criticize its absence, and reject those who alter
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