This week, I’ve decided to stray from our typical blog where we critique the writing world. Below you will see an example of my personal war writing that was created as part of an assessment for my university, along with why it is written the way it is.
This assessment does reference the Holocaust. Copying this assessment will result as an act of plagiarism, so please, enjoy but do not steal.
My Imperfect Family
It was never meant to be this way. Like her brothers and sisters, she had meant to raise her family happily. They were brought up with care, love, kindness… everything she had been brought up with. Yet, her kids were nothing like her. They couldn’t seem to love each other like she loved her siblings.
She flinched as the house shook again. She never thought that she’d end up fearing the people she had raised.
The sun’s arms lifted and stretched over the world, preparing it for a new day as it curled with the globe. Her children went about their day, and by the end of it she would provide them with food, feeding her grandchildren, great grandchildren, the unborn even. She gave them a smile every day, yet sometimes she couldn’t hold in her sadness and wept floods no one could stop for a second. She tried to hold it in, but everyone cracks.
No one likes seeing their children die, especially by the hands of their siblings.
She heaved a breath, let it out slowly, shifted in her bed. She could taste the odour on her tongue, a strange gas, feel the moisture on her skin. Something was dripping on her, mixing with her tears.
It was happening again. She could hear the crashes, feel the ash and dust gather on her skin as the fight shook her house. Her children were fighting each other over such a petty thing. So what if they looked different? So what if they had different beliefs? Differences bring people together, it makes families stronger. If they were all the same they wouldn’t have anything to bond over, there would be no fun.
She’d seen this happen before, and yet still she couldn’t prepare herself to see it.
She sighed shakily as she heard the fights escalate. Things were being thrown, their yells had gotten louder. Someone was going to get hurt, she could feel it. It hadn’t gone this bad before, she thought to herself. Maybe she should intervene.
But her body was so tired, aching. She had bruises from when they had turned on her, slapping her with new things every day, every second, piling on hit after hit after hit. She cringed from the memory.
“You don’t belong here!” she heard one of her children scream.
“This is my home, I lived here before you!”
She covered her ears. She didn’t want to hear them. She knew by the end of the night she would most likely lose another child, and she couldn’t do anything about it, not unless she wanted them to turn against her. First her daughters were attacked by her sons, then it was the unique ones, the ones with darker skin, the ones who didn’t live ‘proper’, the ones who believed in something else. Now they just attacked each other for the pettiest things, trying to ‘eradicate’ each other.
If she had known that this was her family life would turn out to be like, she would never have tried to make it exist, stopped it before it even began. Would it have been better if she had never tried so hard to make it? Survival of the fittest, every single one of them had implemented in a way somehow, even if they didn’t believe in it. Perhaps her children would fight themselves to death, although they had already been doing such since they were born.
She fiddled with the soft, patchy flecks of hair on her body, growing deep into the soil of flesh that was her skin. This war had been going on for so long. How many more pieces of metal did they have to stick in each other, stick in her before they were happy? They didn’t need a “master race” or religion or culture. That was the beauty of humanity – they were all so different, it should be something to celebrate.
So why, she wondered as guns were fired, shooting down the next lot of Jews. Why on earth would they hate each other for it? This was not the way of nature, this was not the way I was made to make.
Maybe she should intervene. The only way to do such a thing would be to end her own life, her own existence, distort her enough to ruin what she had created. The thought filled her with so much hope, a final escape, yet she felt the tug at her mind. How many of her innocent children would have to die with her?
It didn’t matter how much her children fought her and each other, killed each other. A mother could never harm her children. So Mother Nature let out a sigh, pushed herself further into her bed of earth, and wept for her imperfect family.
All genocides start with discrimination as those discriminated against are the victims. However, we are barely shown the impact of discrimination and genocide on families to a deep, familiar extent. It is extremely rare for graphic photos to be released to the public, and it is only in recent times that testimonials of victims or the descendants of victims are released.
Using the notion of domestic violence, I mirrored the horrors of genocides in a common yet somewhat relatable sense. Comparative to genocides, the results of domestic violence is shown and campaigned against on a national scale – it’s what happens in most homes in Australia, therefore it is also a familiar concept to audiences of all ages.
Choosing the image of the mother however, evokes a sense of innocence, maternity and love which most people have experienced as part of growing up. A mother’s love has always been a creative tool for artists and authors to play with to create an emotional response. Children, although they may stray from their parents, in the end have memories and relationships with their mothers that they will never forget. It is in this moment of division that experimental children may get destructive, hence leading to internal chaos within families and relationships.
It is made clear towards the end of the story, when the reader is already experiencing an emotional response for the mother listening to the warfare in her home, bringing a bigger, moral question to mind – why? Why do these things happen? The connection between the two is made particularly with the sentence “So why, she wondered as guns were fired, shooting down the next lot of Jews.” It is because of this that people begin to realise the true impact of genocide not only to the participants but also to this very Earth we live on.
The graphic horrors of genocide are never truly revealed to make a true impact within society. With the metaphor of a violent family relationship, I was able to connect the emotional destructiveness of warfare with the imagery of a home. It is only through this that I can establish a response on the unhealthy actions that are commonly and constantly occurring in the historical and present times of humanity.
Savage, R. (2006) ‘Vermin to be cleared off the face of the earth’: Perpetrator Representations of Genocide Victims as Animals’ in C. Tatz et al. (ed) Genocide Perspectives III, Sydney: Brandl & Schlesinger
Malley-Morrison, K. (2012) ‘International Perspectives on Family Violence and Abuse’: A Cognitive Ecological Approach, Routledge
Hertzog, E. (2008) ‘Life, Death and Sacrifice’: Women and Family in the Holocaust, Gefen Publishing House
Hirsch, M. (1989) ‘The Mother / Daughter Plot’: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Indiana University Press
Ehrlich, P.R. & Ornstein, R.E. (2010) ‘Humanity on a Tightrope’: Thoughts on Empathy, Family, and Big Changes for a Viable Future, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers