Both Sebastian Faulks and W. H. Auden write about the tales of Jewish refugees living in the time of holocaust during WW2 in their two pieces, ‘The Last Night’ and ‘Refugee Blues’. By using literary techniques such as imagery and tone both writers, Auden and Gray create a sense of alienation for the characters portrayed in their writing. Both Auden and Gray create a sincere illusion of reality to promote the refugee’s alienation and suffering in both stories ultimately bringing the two gripping tales to life.
Both Auden and Faulks use imagery as an extremely strong literary device to create alienation towards the refugees in their two stories. Immediately Auden introduces the reader to the impossible situation that the characters that they find themselves in. Auden manipulates social structure and the feeling of alienation towards the refugees with the use of natural imagery. Lines such as “saw a door opened and a cat let in” and “Thought I heard thunder rumbling in the sky; … they must die”.
These two lines not only show the manner in which the refugees have been regarded as completely inferior but also that they are willed to die, disregarding the concept of escape. In Faulk’s ‘The Last Night’, though not as frequently, also uses natural imagery to highlight the distressing solitude of the refugees and their impossible situation. “Though none of the scraps reached as far as the enclosure. ” The word ‘enclosure’ emphasizes how the Jews had been cast aside as ‘social dirt’ as animals are normally associated as being hoarded into an enclosure by human beings.
The two pieces ‘Refugee blues’ and ‘The Last Night’ differ significantly in the way that they are written. In Auden’s ‘Refugee Blues’ the story of the refugees is told through a poem with three lines in each stanza. Whereas in Gray’s ‘The Last night’ the structure follows more of a story and is written in the third person. Auden’s poem is written to the tune of blues music, which was very popular and fashionable at the time the poem was written.
“Say this city has ten million souls, some are living in mansions, some are living in holes”. The rhythm created throughout provokes a melancholy atmosphere to be interpreted by the reader enticing compassion towards the refugees and further discriminating and separating the Jewish characters and their race from the rest of the world. Unlike Gray, Faulks writes the ‘The Last Night’ in the form of a historical fiction indicating the lack of a particular rhythm in which the story can be read.
These contrasting rhythms though seem to create to same feeling of sadness and empathy towards the characters. Faulk’s choice of diction and literary techniques match with the rhythm and tone of ‘Refugee Blues’ and create a huge similarity between the way the two poems are written to create alienation towards the refugees. Auden and Faulks use foreshadowing both subtly and palpably early on in each text to show what will happen in the near future of the two stories.
Faulks in particular manipulates this technique to show upcoming events. In the opening statement “Andre and his brother Jacob… to a concentration camp” presented in bold for added effect, Faulks immediately introduces the reader to the ignorance and innocence of the children not being able to fully understand their predicament because they are both at such a young age. They do not realise the harsh reality that has befallen them and the rest of the Jews in Europe.
As orphaned children they have already been split up from their parents and this can be interpreted as a model for other families who are situated with the two boys. That pain and sorrow will be felt and loneliness endured by all the children going to the concentration camp. Additionally, in the second paragraph of Faulk’s text he speaks of a woman handing out food and people having “food for the journey”. This can be deduced by the reader as another use of foreshadowing. It was believed that Adolf Hitler was of the Christian religion.
This scene of people eating food before the tragic events that ensue are similar and almost mirror that of the last supper, the Christian fable that exists in the bible where Jesus was last before he was crucified and sent to his imminent death. It is seen as the ultimate betrayal in the bible when Judas sold out Jesus to the Romans for thirty silver coins. The connection between the two estranged events though shows that, just like Jesus, the ignorant children are completely unaware of the fact the food being handed out represents to the reader that the end is near as did the last supper for Jesus.
This could be seen as the Faulk’s demonstration of Hitler’s somewhat extreme impiety displaying him as Judas even though Hitler was of Christian religion. In ‘Refugee Blues’ Auden writes in his first paragraph “Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us. ” Auden exploits the predicament of the refugees to demonstrate that they are completely alone and segregated from society and they are regarded as substandard population and presages what is to come for the Jews at the conclusion of the poem.
With the use of Irony Auden ends the poem on the line “Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me. ” After so much suffering was brought to the refugees by being neglected by people who thought to be superior human beings, they were finally being sought after but only to taken to their inexplicably to their death, meaning that there is still no place for them in the society that they will no longer live in.
In conclusion Both W.H. Auden and Sebastian Faulks tell the tragic tales of Jewish Refugees who find themselves in an impossible situation. Their attention to detail is impeccable allowing the reader to be engulfed in the story and empathise with the characters and live the story. Both manipulate certain ideas, themes and literary devices using similar and contrasting ideas to ultimately create a sense of great alienation towards the refugees in each tale.