13 May 2016
Analysisof Revenge as Depicted in S. A Novel about the Balkans
S. A Novel about the Balkans, by Slavenka Drakulic, is a storyabout a Bosnian woman, named S., who suffered at the hands of brutalsoldiers during the Bosnia war. The novel mainly centers on a seriesof S.’s flashbacks as she recounts the horrific ill-treatment sheunderwent. Through telling her story, the author creates a vividimage of how deep and dark human nature is during wartime. The storyis a revelation of the terrifying features of war, which includecivilian torture, rape and cruel killings by the occupying forces.Both the author and the main character are rising above the awfulevents, beyond the war crimes and on top of unfairness to show themeaning of human life. Men and women suffer during war. However,women suffer more through mistreatment, sexual abuse, mishandling andirreversible traumas acted upon by the inhumane soldiers. This papermainly focuses on discussing S.’s disposition in her encounter withthe Serbian soldier’s torture along with the effects of war onpeople’s normal life.
The story beginswith a spiteful S. The main character is filled with hate for thejust born baby boy she gives birth to in the same afternoon atKarolinska Hospital in Stockholm. S.’s hatred manifests through heractions at the hospital. For instance, she turns her head quickly toavoid a glance of her supposed son. In fact, she feels relief andfree that this ‘little being’ has finally come out of her bodyand there is no any connection anymore. It was like a tumor needingremoval, a disease and a burden requiring removal from her system.She hated the child more than everything (5). S. even feels like shecould get up any moment and move away. She refuses to pick and touchthe infant knowing that it would reflect on the responsibility to herside, yet she wants nothing to do with it. She even feels nothing buthostility for this creature. Her hatred has been there from the startwhere she had condemned the child to death. She had hated her bodybecause of the deformation the pregnancy caused apart from having nooption but to abort the pregnancy.
As the story develops, and takes the readers back to the backgroundon S.’s childbirth, it reveals her aspect of being open-minded. S.is not an individual who jumps to conclusion. She tries analyzing thesituations she comes across. For instance, when a teenage boy wearingtorn sneakers and unclean camouflage pants holding a rifle entersS.’s house while she is making coffee, she does not reactimmediately. As much as this scene would have left many in fear, S.invited other reasons regarding the situation. She ignores the weaponin a bid to act normal to control the encounter as a teacher shouldor would with a student otherwise she could have screamed for help asseveral people would do. She does not take this boy seriously out ofhis clothing and his tendencies to blush. For her, such a boy hadlost morals and needed help to re-fix himself sooner, rather thanlater, before his actions cause severe harm to the society.
The author depicts S. as a persevering woman who despite theuninhabitable situations she encounters, manages to stay hopeful. Sheaffords to hope the best days ahead in spite of the unspeakabletreatment she receives from the soldiers. She experiences and enduresterrifying acts when she is destined to serve in the dishonorable“women’s room”. She withstands the sight of a little girlviolated, brutally killed and then mutilated. She observes soldiersburn a woman’s breasts with cigarettes. The soldier urinates inS.’s mouth and orders her to swallow. A soldier savagely beats herup and commands her to open her mouth (Cooper 1). When the soldiersmake her the mistress of the camp’s captain, she endures monstrousromance destruction with hopes that she could exploit the situationto an advantage. Fear struck many of the women or choked them withhelpless anger as S. described. S. hardened against torment untildeath becomes natural scenes. There was only one rule she realizedand upheld in the camp, and that was to survive no matter the cost.The illustration is important as it teaches the reader to considerthe inhumane acts people encounter during wars. Moreover, it showsthe readers that giving up during such situations and conditions isnot an option, but they have to persevere, so they can at least findways of negotiating for peace.
Moreover, the author shows S as unrelenting in all the circumstancesshe encounters. The suffering she has undergone makes her moreresilient. On the day she goes into labor, she is not afraid of thesharp pain because she had gotten used to the pain of being hit by arifle, tied up, kicked in the chest by boots, slapped and bangedagainst the wall. The kind of pain one would feel after passing out,a pain that inflicts another body, a pain that one feels after seeinganother in pain. Eventually, one stopped or got used to this pain. S.just like a few of the fellow women in the concentration camps, foundit to focus on the positive side of the situation no matter how smallits manifestation could be. During wars, people usually encounteruninhabitable conditions and often live or find refuge in derelictconditions thus, they become familiar with the aspects of wars suchas mistreatment, rape, and killings. However, people often find peacein death, which shows unrelenting nature of those who decide to livethrough the conditions. S. experiences mistreatment, rape, andencounters murder and mistreatment of hundreds of people thus,readers may wonder how she survives. Her unrelenting nature helps herto live through the unforgiving conditions of the war so she can atleast engage in the placatory or vindictive processes that may occurat the end of the war.
One of the most horrible effects of war is that it completelydestroys one life course. The occurrence of ethical cleansing inBosnia is an illustration of both personal and political violations.Acts of war shatter dreams and the usual course of life and plan. Warcould be a common three-letter word, but produces various individualchanges in life. Before the war, S. had dreamt of having a baby oneday. The Bosnian war, however, made it a different time for her andso far removed the plan from being part of her life. She could nolonger be certain of anything, let alone a distant memory. S. was aschoolteacher in her rightful life, but through hostilities, theSerbian soldiers appointed as the mistress to their captain. Todestroy her further, the repeated rape and missed opportunities forabortion forces her to parent an unwanted child.
Karnig Panian in “Goodbye, Antoura: A Memoir of the ArmenianGenocide,” also shows the similar effect of a war changingones life completely. Panian to grow up faster than his five yearsold without any adult care after the Turkish administrators left himabandoned among other orphans. Before the war, Panian recalls hisnormal life as family, nature, food, play, sleeping on the roof oftheir house staring up at the sky (Panian, 21). He was brutally awareof losing normality after his family died in a refugee camp in theSyrian deserts and had to survive hunger and mistreatment at theorphanage. At the Antoura home, some cruel administrators wanted tochange the children’s history ultimately having sought to changetheir names and force them to speak Turkish. While war meant rape asforced paternity to S., it implied forced resistance and feelings ofpremature loneliness for Panian shutting down hopes, desires anddecisions leaving them with memories only as ordinary lives.
Secondly, revenge among war victims does not account or pay for thedestructions left after the war. With time, people learn to forgiveand live life carrying the deep scars as the most sensible thing todo. S. is an undoubtedly courageous woman. One aware of her pastencounters through to the hospital bed would understand her reasonsfor staying away from looking at a baby she had just brought to theworld. It would have been so easy to leave the child right in thematernity wing and continue her normal life in hatred towards thosewho destroyed her life. G., who had accompanied her to the hospital,had reminded the nurse that S. would not want to see the baby. Afterall F. in the Zagreb camp gave birth and instantly killed the childto save her from shame and all undesirable feelings.
However, this was not the case with S. because she remembered hersurvival throughout the trauma. She recalled her life before the war,the dream that showed her that revenge is meaningless and her enemieswho no longer recognized her. It would do no good to make her handsdirty with their blood. S. learned that forgiveness was the onlyright way. She realizes that children are not to pay for sins becausethey are born perfect and innocent (Drakulic 196-199). S.reconstructs her sense of humanity and eventually accepts motherhood.The determination to teach her boy that hate can transform to lovefinally gives S. a reason to move on.
Kennan Trebincevic in “The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, andReturn,” records a similar account on revenge as being lesssatisfying. In this story, Trebincevic initially sets out to paybackon those who betrayed his family during the Bosnia war. He makes alist of the things to do while back in Bosnia. Trebincevic plans toconfirm the deaths of the betrayers and to urinate on the grave ofhis former karate coach to the point of preparing the quantity ofwater he would need to drink for that purpose. Nonetheless, thefeeling subsides on reaching the Bosnia as forgiveness overwhelms himinstead. Trebincevic eventually forgives his neighbors as the onlylogic option left in spite of the deep scars he still carried.Through the desperation, he suffered when his family was trapped inthe concentration camps, starvation and weakness perpetrated byfriends who stole their items, his mother taught him to love, tomaintain dignity and be resilient (Trebincevic and Shapiro 268).
Joe Sacco in “Safe Area, Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia,”highlights on forgiveness and rebuilding as an effect of waraftermath. The Bosnians, Croats, and the Serbs eventually come to anagreement after acknowledging the disastrous effects of engaging inwar (Sacco 212). Both sides demobilize the troops, and Gorazderejoice. The Bosnians evicted from their homes return to their homes.The peacemaking makes residents realize the time wasted inbattlefields and get used to the new situations as they resume theirnormal activities. Sometimes, wars bring peace, but they do so if onegroup decides to give up or both sides reach a compromise where theydecide to start a peacemaking settlement. However, the peacemakingsettlement must include some form of forgiveness and considers thecauses of the war, which then help people to start a new life, aswell as, live peacefully with one another. Apart from highlightingthe elements of peacemaking and forgiveness, the book provides acomprehensive illustration of the unsettling happenings of Bosnia.The book tells of the systematic rape, brutality, mistreatment, anduninhabitable conditions that people encounters during the war. Thus,it is imperative to note that the book supports S. A Novel about theBalkans on the effects of war on people especially women.
S. A Novel about the Balkans portrays S. as a woman who has undergonemuch trauma in life, yet she still finds a way to survive and beatthe darkest effects of war. Wars change the ordinary course of life,as has been the case of S. story along with Panian and Trebincevic.S.’s flashbacks transport the readers to familiarization of therealities of horrifying and brutal actions that she has undergone inthe women’s camp. S. survives inhuman soldiers repeated rape andunspeakable actions among other women. The story shows how anindividual like S. feels less of human because of the war. Thereflections on the actions of the soldiers illustrate how wars canturn people into savages. Moreover, the reflections show how peoplecan use human values and considerations on their situations to turnsuch situations around. People struggle with undesirable situationssuch as S.’s unwanted pregnancy to term.
While giving up the baby for adoption could have reduced part oftrauma, the reality is, she was the mother. S. eventually opensherself to humanity and finally forgives and accepts motherhood.Panian, on the other hand, ever feels the absence of his family.Besides, Trebincevic lost faith with true friendship and loyalty in arelationship. In all cases, war deprived the victims of going back tonormal lives. Revenge does make neither things right nor melt awaythe pain that the victims of war feel. With time, people learn tolighten and forgive though living with scars knowing that it thebasic way to make life move on again. The body of literature analyzedshows how wars affect people, as well as, provide the processes thattranspire towards the end of wars. Through the development of thenumerous stories illustrated in the discourse, the authors developintense images of the way the deep and dark human nature advances andtake control of people during wartime. The stories provide an intenseexposé of the frightening structures and aspects of war such asmistreatment, civilian torture, rape and cruel killings by theoccupying forces. However, despite these aspects, some people such asthe main characters of the illustrated books rise beyond the warcrimes and show that human nature and values can become essentialtools during such occurrences.
Cooper, Richards Rand. "The Heroine Of Slavenka Drakulic`s NovelEndures Six Months In
A Serbian Internment Camp.". New York Times. N.p., 2000.Web. 6 May 2016.
Drakulić, Slavenka, Marko Ivić, and SlavenkaDrakulić. S.New York: Viking, 2000. Print.
Panian Karnig. Goodbye, Antoura. Print.
Sacco, Joe. Safe Area Goražde. Seattle, WA: FantagraphicsBooks, 2000. Print.
Trebinčević, Kenan and Susan Shapiro. The Bosnia List.Print.