Moral Ambiguity In The Assault

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Moral Ambiguity and History within The Assault Harry Mulisch’s The Assault is a self-proclaimed “story of an incident” (3) wherein “the rest [of the events are] a postscript” (55). The incident in question is the murder of Anton Steenwijk’s parents, and the postscript refers to the future, where Anton uncovers details relating to the incident. Despite Mulisch’s definitive distinction between events, however, the incident itself is convoluted and its details shift over the span of the work. Through the development of major and supporting characters, Mulisch brings forth a diverse range of perspectives and reconstructs the history of the incident, thereby exploring the motif of moral ambiguity within The Assault. The aforementioned perspectives are explored through the limited omniscient third person narrator, who narrates in a factual tone and provides the lens from which events are viewed. Although the narrator is omniscient in the traditional sense, as he or she has access to the thoughts of all characters, the narrator is limited in that he or she solely follows Anton’s journey. Consequently, the events that transpired previous to and following the assault remain ambiguous and fluctuate as new information is introduced by supporting characters. Within the exposition, The Assault features Anton’s perspective on the events leading up to the incident. Despite being the protagonist, Anton is a static character and characterized as indifferent, impressionable, passive and

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