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The Gas Ladies And Gentlemen

Good Essays
Both S. A Novel About the Balkans by Slavenka Drakulic and This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski are novels that tell the tale of those who were victims of some of the worst crimes ever committed in human history. The main characters of each novel are subjected to terrible conditions but nevertheless both defeat the odds and survive. Survivors of such events often struggle to deal with their past. The authors of each novel deal with this struggle in different ways through the characters.
In her novel, Slavenka writes in a dynamic way about the women’s rape camps established Bosnia during the Bosnian War in the early 1990’s. The main character of the book is a woman named S. who was a normal well-respected school teacher.
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Borowski was Polish and was taken to Auschwitz as a political prisoner. There he worked in “Canada” which was the place that the prisoners arriving to camp came through. His job was to unload the incoming transports to the camp. Because of his job he was able to take items from the trains to either eat or use himself or he could use the items to trade for other things that he may want to have. He was in a way privileged in the camp because he got more food than many of the other prisoners. However, as a result of his duties he also dealt directly with death. He had to move many dead bodies many of which were children. This close proximity to death greatly affected him. Borowski once wrote in a letter, “You know how much I used to like Plato. Today I realized that he lied. For the things of this world are not a reflection of the ideal, but a product of human sweat, blood and hard labor. It was we who built the pyramids, hewed the marble for the temples and the rocks for the imperial roads.... We were filthy and died real deaths… What does ancient history say about us?... We rave over the extermination of the Etruscans, the destruction of Carthage, over treason, deceit, plunder, Roman law! Yes, today too there is law!” (pg.25) Borowski sees life differently after he has been in the concentration camp. He no…show more content…
face similarly deplorable conditions but they both still survive. This is only because they take a number of measures to ensure that they survived. Borowski saved food for himself even when he had enough that he could have spared. He did not give food to those who he knew were going to die because he knew it would just be a waste of food. Even though it may have not been the most kind way of doing things the choices he made were ones that helped him to survive his time in the camp. The only way that he survived was because others died. It is nearly impossible for one to survive such conditions and to help others. The only way he survived the camp was through an every man for himself mentality. After being liberated from the camp Borowski struggled with this survivor's guilt. Even though the novel is not an exact autobiography it is based on his life inside the camps. Just six years after being released from the camp Borowski committed suicide. “Borowski opened a gas valve on July 1, 1951” (pg. 11) One can conclude from this suicide that the events from the camp and his own survivor’s guilt most likely contributed to his tragic death. In a similar way S. used makeup to preserve herself. S. began wearing makeup in the camp as a way to gain power. When she was wearing makeup she almost had a power over the men that the other women did not have. The other women could not understand why she was wearing makeup but this was only because they did not that
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