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‘The Last Night’ Paper

‘The Last Night’ by Sebastian Faulks and ‘Refugee Blues’ a poem by W.H.Auden both present the fate of the Jews as inevitable. In both the pieces the Jews are compared to an animal which conveys the idea that they are waiting to be slaughtered. Both writers also continuously refer back to the poor conditions the Jews are in, even in the titles. The key differences between the two texts are in that in ‘Refugee Blues’ the Jews are now refugees and it is effectively the end of their time in capture but the Jews in ‘The Last Night’ are at the start of their struggle and captivity.

The title ‘The Last Night’ foreshadows the mood of the piece because it shows that it is the Jews’ last night of freedom and shows the fate of the Jews as inevitable before the reader has even started the body of the piece. Faulks uses a hyperbole in the title; it isn’t literally their last night ever but it is their last night of freedom so their fate is showed to be inevitable. The word ‘Night’ in the title connotes of being in a scary place and the dark which is unknown, this is use of pathetic fallacy because before the piece has even started the mood is set as a scary, dark place. The word ‘Last’ in the title shows there is no escape for the Jews and that it’s the final part of their bad journey. Their fate is inevitable because it seems they have already are accepted their death.

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The title ‘Refugee Blues’ does not make the Jews’ fate clear because the word ‘Refugee’ is not a word to describe the concentration camps but as the reader reads on the Jews’ fate becomes very clear. The word ‘Refugee’ shows that even though the Jews are far away from Germany and are in America they still feel threatened and we can tell this because there are still references to Hitler. ‘Refugee’ tells us that the Jews had a choice to leave whereas in ‘The Last Night’ they didn’t have this choice and wish they did. ‘Blue’ is the colour thought of as gloomy and depressive which reflects in the text and gives the piece a gloomy mood. The style of music ‘Blues’ is emotional music, sometimes good but normally sad music about death and unhappy places. This sets the mood for the piece and also gives the piece emotional feelings from the very start.

Structurally, ‘The Last Night’ starts by showing that the Jews are reluctant to accept their inevitable fate (‘a final message’). As the piece goes on, the words ‘soft bloom’ and ‘dung’ are used in the same sentence. They juxtapose each other which shows the conditions the Jews are in and how poorly they were treated. The word ‘dung’ is part of an extended metaphor again comparing the Jews to animals and in this case relating the Jews to a pig which is mean to compare because in Judaism a pig is thought of as a dirty animal which is why Jews don’t eat pork. To create effect on the reader the writer uses metaphors to show many things but he mainly uses it to display how bad the conditions are that the Jews are in and also how poorly treated the Jews are by the Nazis. To have the same effect on the reader the writer uses sentence structure to emphasise the small sentences and small clauses. “Cheek laid, uncaring, in the dung.” this shows that no one cares about the Jews and the fate of the Jews is shown as inevitable.

Alliteration is used by Sebastian Faulks to create emphasis on the reader: “walls, wakeful”. Another technique used to have an effect on the reader is caesuras; these create a pause in the piece and provide more of a pause than a full stop therefore they give the reader more thinking time. This in turn shows the fate of the Jews inevitable. The use of colons to create a break in the text for the reader to think about what is being said and to imagine the situation the writer is conveying, very much like a caesura, has a large effect on the reader by giving them time to think it makes the Jews’ situation seem worse. It is usually used after a statement so that the reader thinks about it: “a sound came to them from below”. Sebastian Faulks writes rhetorical questions to make the reader feel sorrow for the Jews. It also involves the reader in the text: “why did she stare as though she hated him?”

W.H.Auden uses structure to present the fate of the Jews as inevitable. The piece is structured in a way that in every stanza a scene is displayed, the scenes portrayed tell a story of how the Jews are being kicked out of society. At the start of the piece the Jews are shown as just living their normal lives, whereas the last stanza shows the Jews ‘on a great plane’ which implies they are in the middle of nowhere and have been completely kicked out of society. The first line of every stanza makes a statement, “Say is city had ten million souls”, the second line simply expands on the first point and in most of the stanzas it mocks the Jews in a discrete way. For example: “some are living in mansions, some are living in holes”. The third line then mentions something about what was wrote in the second line and then “oh dear” is in the middle. The first clause is then repeated to put emphasis on what is trying to be put across. This is very effective on the reader because the clause that is repeated is usually a sad one or makes the reader feel sympathy for the Jews therefore showing their fate as inevitable. Unlike “The Last Night” the piece is not in chronological order. This creates confusion to the reader and is supposed to represent the confusion of the Jews. The Jews are confused because they are unaware of why they are being treated so poorly.

The Jews’ fate is inevitable by showing everyone as being disheartened including the adults, ‘the adults sat slumped’, this shows the fate of the Jews as inevitable because all of them have lost hope. Another way of showing the Jews’ fate as inevitable is by using ellipses at the end of paragraphs to create a break for the reader to think and to create suspense and this lets the reader freely think and lets the reader imagine it for themselves. Sebastian Faulks presents the Jews as a collective group not as individuals; he uses the 3rd person narrative. This makes the Jews seem very insignificant. Similarly, the Jews in ‘Refugee Blues’ are made to feel very insignificant by saying they have no passport- “if you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”.

The writer conveys the bus as “roaring”, although it is not a Jew that is shown as an animal, but it is still the mentioning of animalistic features to something that’s not an animal. The words “final message” are used at the very start of ‘The Last Night’ which immediately sets the mood of the piece and shows the fate of the Jews as inevitable. Most of the first paragraph is just showing the Jews as reluctant to accept the inevitable. In the same sentence “soft bloom” and “the dung” are used, they juxtapose each other. “Soft bloom” connotes flowers and a colourful area of greenery whereas “the dung” connotes a dirty area which pigs live in. The Jews are displayed to have given up and to have lost all hope, “The adults in the room sat slumped”, this shows that not only have some people lost hope but even the adults have and this shows that the Jews have accepted their inevitable fate.

Throughout the piece there is reference to the end and to a finale. For example “the last hours” is used and even if it is not directly meant to show the end it still shows that the mood and morale of the Jews is very bad. Even the children are affected and the writer mentions the children often to emphasise that the Nazis were very mean and didn’t care who they were hurting. Examples of this are: “the children were at the deepest moments of their sleep” and “ferocity on a child beside him”. In both pieces the Jews are shown as being dead even thought they are clearly still alive, this just shows that they may as well be dead because they are only waiting to be killed. The women are “wailing” names and the word wailing connotes an unpleasant, loud sound which may also relate to the wailing walls of Jerusalem after the Jews defeated the Romans, this would then be shown as the present problem of the Nazis and that they will defeat them.

In ‘Refugee Blues’ and ‘The Last Night’ there is an extended metaphor; it relates the Jews to animals but in ‘Refugee Blues’ the Jews are shown as worse than animals: “poodle in a jacket”. This shows even the German dogs have warm clothes and they are still cold, whereas in ‘The Last Night’ the Jews are shown as animals and the purpose of animals is to be eventually slaughtered; this shows the Jews have been born to be slaughtered. The writer states, “a shower of food was thrown towards them”, which makes the reader think of feeding time at the zoo which again relates the Jews to animals. The writer in ‘Refugee Blues’ uses rhetorical questions to make you feel involved in the text and makes the reader think specifically about what is asked and therefore the writer can control what the reader is thinking about at certain times in the piece. Similarly the writer can have control over the reader’s feelings.

The fate of the Jews is shown as inevitable in both ‘The Last Night’ and ‘Refugee Blues’ through the title, structure and language used.

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