Essay on Natalia Ginzburg's The Son of Man

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Natalia Ginzburg's The Son of Man

In “The Son of Man,” Natalia Ginzburg asserts that while the war did irreparable psychological damage to its survivors, it also gave the young generation enough strength to confront the stark reality of the precarious nature of human existence. Passionately but concisely, through the use of repetitive imagery, fatalistic tone and lack of classic organization, Ginzburg shows how the war changed the world around Man and how Man changed his perception of the world.

People cannot choose the time to live and die. Ginzburg had to live through the horrors of war: destroyed houses, air raids, arrests, and death. She shows how the war not only deprives people of their belongings, but also distorts the
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More than half the sentences in the essay contain some sort of negation. With relentless obsession she repeats “never,” “no longer,” “useless,” “we cannot,” and every time it means: do not delude yourself – the wounds of the war are incurable. Adjectives and nouns: “incurable,” “darkest,” “insecurity,” underscore even more deeply the fatalistic atmosphere she creates. Most sentences are very short as if cutting off any opportunity for a reader to have another opinion. She aims to reach our hearts, not our heads. “We shall not get over this war. It is useless to try.” She repeats this thought over and over driving it relentlessly into the reader’s mind and leaving no hope for a happy ending.

At first sight, the organization of the essay may seem chaotic – deprived of the three classical parts. There is no introductory paragraph (to acquaint a reader with a situation she only says “There has been a war”), no plot development (because there is no plot), and no clear finale (nothing new can be added or finalized). Ginzburg deprives a reader of the classical organization to show that war is not a history with beginning and ending dates: people have suffered and are tied to their suffering forever. However, she does provide some organization on a paragraph level. As if leading the reader around in
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