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Insidious Destruction

By , Vancouver, WA
“Forty days and forty nights, floods and rain… no end in sight.” (Noah’s Ark, lines 14-15); and as the rain fell the world started “anew” (Noah’s Ark, line 20). But in order for this to do so, destruction had to take place and promises to be broken “a thousand times over” (Hosseini, 2), and an unimaginable amount of “sin” has to take place (Hosseini, 17). The destruction caused by many famous literary characters shows how corruption has the ability to take charge of a character and leave a path of shambles behind them. Books like Haled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner show the parallelism of Amir finding destruction through his own lies, and his own home land finding destruction through distorted truths. Nevil Shute’s On the Beach shows the catastrophic destruction that ultimately ends the world; the destruction that had been caused by overzealous countries in a nuclear war. Poems from assorted authors discuss details of the stages of destruction in many different ways, whether it be the journey to destruction, becoming immersed into destruction, the shock of destruction, the process of grieving from the destruction and finally the closure that is found in the end, or as the Noah’s Ark Poem, the “dove” that finds “dry land” (Noah’s Arc, line 16).

A lie is like a seed that is planted. It can only grow if it is fed by other lies, however once it gets to a certain point it gains the ability to take from the truth and kill everything around it. In the book The Kite Runner a young boy named Amir learns this grim truth by omitting the truth of what really happened in the “deserted alley” for “twenty years” (Hosseini, 1). Omission is a common theme in The Kite Runner. The book begins with Amir speaking of the truth that he had held deep inside of him, however as the book goes on he learns of the other lies, the lie that he was an only child. His father had held the truth from him that he had a half brother for his entire life, if Amir had known then things may have turned out differently for Hassan. When Amir learned he felt a great pang of betrayal, reminiscing of the conversation he had with his father as a young child, when Baba had told Amir that “there is only one sin, and that is theft” and that “every other sin is a variation of theft”. (Hosseini, 17) Baba had stolen Amir’s “right to the truth” (Hosseini, 17). Because Baba had withheld the truth, he had “haunting Ghosts” (Sangster, line 8) that caused him to be bitter and almost callous towards Amir. Baba saw the shame he had brought and couldn’t bear to admit it, and ended up dying with the secret buried with him, until Rahim Khan decided to help Amir “be good again” (Hosseini, 2). The lies that were told show the decline of the characters, each lie strengthened the sprout of dishonesty, but weakened the characters morals.

Soon the decline of the character pushes them to become immersed in destruction itself. In the novel On The Beach the characters are thrown immediately into the destruction of knowing that the world will soon be at an end. While some seek refuge through religion, others became “lost souls” (Idoko, Line 5) and find themselves to behave recklessly due to the fact they knew they had little time left to live. Some thought that the American who left the submarine to commit suicide and enter the radiation zone was “the right idea”. However the idea of committing suicide is completely immoral. The man ended his life on purpose, in any other circumstance it would have been frowned upon. Others like Dwight looked to companionship to help get him through the last months of his life, and in that companionship “there was nothing in it” (Shute, 285-286) for Moira due to the fact she never receives anything in return: Just as Hassan in the Kite Runner never gained anything in return except for betrayal. Hassan and Moira are like the last flicker of hope, and as that “cinder dies; the world is left with only doubts.” (Zammit, lines 14-15). When Amir pushed Hassan out of his life he found himself to suffer several consequences, whether it is immense guilt to becoming an “Insomniac.” (Hosseini, 86). The night he became an insomniac was when he laid awake as a young boy, in a room full of family members, whispering “I watched Hassan get raped”. And while “no one” (Hosseini, 86) heard, he wished that someone could have, for he had no idea how to let go of the heavy burden he carried with him: Until he found “a way to be good again”. (Hosseini, 168) You can connect the opportunities of Amir’s redemption to Moira’s opportunities in On the Beach. Moira started out as one of the characters who gave up. She had fallen to drink and didn’t care about anything in the future, because she had been told that there would be no future. She recklessly tossed down drinks while saying “It’ll probably kill me,” (Shute, 37) her reckless behavior weakened her character, making her leave the façade of being a tough girl, however Moira saw something in Dwight that encouraged her to change her reckless habits, and she began to plan for the future, imagining that the sickness would never touch her.

In the novel The Kite Runner the Taliban destroy everything imaginable. They took the Hazara’s into the street and killed them for no reason at all. They did public exterminations at the soccer, brainwashing many people that what they were doing was right. They completely destroyed a once beautiful land and turned it into a grim dessert that looks as if it could be from a horror film. Just like the scene that the poet Randall Jarrell depicted in his famous poem A Camp in the Prussian Forest. There the men “Drunk like water, burnt like wood” (Jarrell, line 17), they become corrupted, and their destruction was as simple as lighting a dry log on fire. The poem is about the holocaust, and all the damage that had been done. The Nazi regime believed that they should create purity be exterminating all those that were thought to be impure. This really relates to the Taliban’s mind set in The Kite Runner. The diction that Jarrell uses in his poetry is so dark and disheartening; it connects well with the scene of Amir returning to Afghanistan for the first time. He learned that in the land that he had once found comforting and familiar was completely destroyed. This feeling of loneliness really can connect to a poem that was written by Mark Strand. The poem discusses how it was a new year, repeatedly saying “nobody knows you”. Amir learned when he returned to Afghanistan that he had been blinded by his guilt, if he had continued his path, then his life would have followed along with the poem, there would be “silence instead of a name”. (Strand, line 24). Unfortunately in the book On the Beach silence replaced all of the characters names. No one would know them, because no one was left. The “soiled wind” (Strand, line 10) blew through the town, silent as death itself, grim as the reaper of the nights, taking all the souls with no regards. While some in the book had their eyes opened to the true beauty, having difficulties believing that they “shan’t see it again” (Shute, 285).

And how would one grieve if faced with this insidious destruction? There is much poetry on grief. A poem by Emily Dickinson called I Measure Every Greif shows an interesting point of view. The poem is Dickinson looking at others grief and comparing it to her own. But while she does this, she manages to show the multiple different types of grief, whether it be “cold”,” Despair”, “death” (Dickinson line ‘s 25,26,23), etc. but the whole poem Dickinson is stating that her grief is worse than all, and concludes with that fact that she has a “piercing comfort” (31) that she is not alone with grief itself. Each of the characters in On The Beach share the same “piercing comfort”, because they all know that they will all end the same way. No one is exempt from the inevitable. They each grieve in different forms, but they all grieve together. While some tried to imagine that things will change and they might just wake up from a long nightmare, others take the news and try to make the best of their last moments. In the Poem Long Distance II Tony Harrison writes of a father who grieves of his wife’s death by pretending she will return, though she has been “two years dead, dad kept her slipper warming by the gas, put hot water bottles her side of bed.” (Harrison, line’s 1-3). The father wished and wished to hear his wife’s “key scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.” In the end the son finds himself to be more like his father than he had originally thought when he “disconnected number” (Harrison, line 16) he still called. This connects to the novel The Kite Runner very well, Amir found himself to be a great man just as his father was. He became the great man because he took the chance and adopted Sohrab, and stood up for him against judgmental eyes. Another connection that Amir had with his father was that they both held heavy lies, which altered their characters to a great degree. In On The Beach Dwight imagines in his mind that his family is still alive in his hometown, waiting for him to go home, he believes so much that he even buys them souvenirs. He copes with the catastrophic destruction by forcing himself to believe that they are still there, or at least pretend to believe. Because of his faith, Moira soon joins in with the fantasy, and even promises to help him find the “pogo stick” (Shute, 186) for his son. The poem 90 North by Randall Jarrell speaks about how a man as a young boy lived thinking that life was a “Cloud-Cuckoo-Land” in which dreams could often come true. The boy dreamed of traveling to the North Pole and accomplishing something great. When he arrives to the North Pole as a man, he learns that it didn’t matter; he is thrown out of his own ignorance, finding that “pain comes from the darkness, and we call it wisdom. It is pain.” He said that knowing the truth was pain, which goes against what The Kite Runner tries to teach, but it goes with what Dwight tries to do all throughout On The Beach.

When faced with destruction, a character is given the ability to show their true colors. Grieving from this destruction can be many different ways, ranging from ignoring the truth to taking it head on. In literature this is depicted in many different ways, whether it be the “hullabaloo” (Noah’s Ark, line 2) that god created in the Noah’s Ark poem, to the “sculls of the innocent turning into smoke.” (Strand, line 13). But if one stays strong, like Noah and the animals that came in “two by two” they may just find that life will be started “anew” and clean. Yet do not take this as the misconstrued truths that the Nazis and Taliban tried to achieve purity by destroying the minorities. The harrowing tales of A Camp in the Prussian Forest and The Kite Runner open the reader’s eyes to the grim truths of what they had destroyed. In The Kite Runner, “the dove had found land” (Noah’s Ark, line 16) when Amir let go of trying to fix everything, when he let go, Sohrab opened up to him in the end, and at that point Amir cared not for what others thought of him, he ran joyfully “a grown man running with a swarm of screaming children” but he didn’t care. The smile from Sohrab didn’t fix anything, but it was like a “new green leaf in Noah’s hand” (Noah’s Ark, line 15), “shaking in the wake of a startled birds flight” (Hosseini, 324). The flight was a second chance: A chance to be good again.

Works Cited
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