Complexity In Harry Mulisch's The Assault

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Authors often write with total purpose; every metaphor, every symbol, and every detail relating back to the novel’s intended focus. In Harry Mulisch’s The Assault, the importance of complexity is revealed through Anton’s journey to accept the reason for his family’s grim fate. As Anton opens himself up to remember and learn about the War, he develops the skills to understand the convoluted situation in which he endured during his earlier life. Mulisch’s distinct writing style and use of unmistakeable parallels, ironic contradiction, and vivid allusions to illustrate the value of complexity in giving meaning to the events leading up to and following his family’s death. The novel explores the value of complexity in giving meaning and significance to Anton’s life. The writing style is a clear representation of the importance of complexity. Written in third-person, the non-intrusive omniscient narrator recounts the convoluted…show more content…
Anton becoming an anaesthesiologist illustrates his desire for control and understanding (80). His thoughts of pain and how even when they are not remembered they are still felt (80) are analogous to his own personal struggles. Even though he attempts to distort his perception of reality and the effect the War had on his mental state, the pain which endured as a child will always stay a part of him. Anton represses any memory of the War, exemplifying his difficulty of accepting reality. While he can try to forget, Anton can never become who is was before the night of his family’s death. Furthermore, Van Lennep’s comment on Anton’s gum pains directly applies to Anton’s memories resurfacing (167). In Anton’s personal struggle to come to terms with the past, the memories and realizations he makes often becomes too much, causing mental as well as physical pain. Anton’s struggle to accept his memories of the past is a
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