Thursday, February 24, 2011

This i Believe "New Birth Freedom"-Maximilian Hodder

The essay “New Birth of Freedom” by Maximilian Hodder is about the traumatizing experience that he had in the Soviet Gulags early on in his like Maximilian Hodder is a Polish film maker who worked in Hollywood California during the time of the broadcast. He tells about the negative affects that the gulags had on his personality, mood and perspective on humanity. He lived in a world of destruction, murder, and hatred. The crimes against humanity made him lose hope and belief that the human being could do more good than bad. After escaping from the gulags, Maximilian Hodder moved to America. He claimed that the damage that was inflicted onto him from the hatred in the gulags was healed and washed away with the genuine welcome and greeting once he embarked on his journey to America. Here he say that the hatred he experienced in the gulags were not the norm, nor the only things that humans could do. He saw experienced the power of volunteer work and he saw the miraculous things that non profit organizations could do and his skewed views were altered and changed for the better. After seeing and experiencing love he say that humans could love more than they destroy.

Maximilian Hodder's experiences in the “New Birth of Freedom” relate to the characters of Geel Piet, Doc, Hoppie and Peekay in Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One. Maximilian recalls times in the gulag where his spirits were down, because he was a man brutalized. One of the most significant quotes in chapter eleven addresses this. “Man brutalized thinks only of his survival. Geel Piet was as ruthless as his oppressors and of the necessity a great deal more cunning.” pg 215. Geel Piet had lived a troubled life of trickery, smuggling and the expert use of camouflage. He was a man brutalized for all his life either in prison physically or emotionally because of racism. It was for these reasons that Geel Piet developed and adapted to his surroundings. Maximilian addresses the same thing. He states that the brutality inside the prison made him a bitter and cynical person. The situations in the gulags became so bad that Maximilian needed to escape. After Maximilian escaped he came to America. According to Maximilian this was one of the more significant instances of his life. Something that helped cheer Maximilian was the warm greeting from America. “Then came the third and, to me perhaps, the most significant period of my life so far, here in America. From the moment the immigration officer at LaGuardia Airport shook my hand and wished me good luck, I again began to see the sunnier side of life.” This rejuvenated him and ignited a spark. This inspired him to realize that the world was not full of hate. Something so small and so little had a great impact on his life. This relates to the impact that mentors like Doc and Hoppie had on Peekay's life. After the loneliness birds entered Peekay, there was always someone to come along and take them out of his heart, and temporarily his life. Though Maximilian Hodder and Peekay's mentors came in different forms, both things that seemed insignificant had a huge impact on his life. Two themes are present in both the book, and the essay are good v.s. evil, and racism. Racism was a driving factor for the gulags and the murders that happened during Maximilian's time, and good v.s. evil is a continuous battle being fought by Peekay, and Maximilian. Both are hoping and looking for ways for good to come out on top.

New Birth of Freedom” by Maximilian Hodder relates to my life because of the good vs evil struggle mentioned in the book. Because of my cultural heritage, I could easily relate to the stories that Maximilian was telling. Growing up I would here stories just like his from grand parents, and grandparents of my friends'. During the early nineteen hundreds racial strife broke out between the waning Ottoman Empire and Christians in the Near East. The stories of genocides, gulags, and concentration camps and not new to me. My ancestors were persecuted similarly for being Christian. Armenians and Greeks experienced the same horrific things that happened in the gulags told by Maximilian. The genocide occurred in 1915. As I get older, I am exposed to more and more stories. Some of the eye witness accounts detailed in my great grandfather's personal diary and heart wrenching to read. The burden and unhealed wounds are passed down to me as I am apart of the next generation of Armenians strive for recognition and recompense. Sometimes looking at the hardships in my own life that are caused by illnesses such as my younger brother's juvenal diabetes and the terrible hardships in other people's lives such as my ancestors and Maximilian Hodder make me myself prone to thinking that there is more evil than good. “I now think not only of those who killed, but also of the kind Russian peasants who met our convoy to Siberia and, in spite of guys who chased them away, tried to share with us corned beef, a piece of bread, perhaps their last one. I also think of those gun-starved wretches who, after years of unendurable exploitation in forced labor camps, still had enough humanness left in them to sing or even joke occasionally.” The unnecessary hardships brought upon my family due to disease, and the unnecessary hardship brought upon Maximilian because of racism could be difficult to understand and deal with. But with the survival stories and inspirational recoveries by Maximilian I could see that good overpowers evil in the world we live in today. The stories shared with each other make coping with the environment easier. With hearing the story of Maximilian Hodder who faced a harder and more daunting challenge than me I understand the hardships of other, and make an personal effort to move on in life and overcome the hurdle. “'The nectar of life is sweet only when shared with others.'”-Adam Mickiewicz.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chapter 7-9 The Power of One

In Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One mentors are important in shaping the life of the main character Peekay. Peekay has had a number of mentors throughout his life. These mentors being Nanny, Granpa Chook, Hoppie, Big Hettie, and Doc. Each individual had an important role on Peekay's life. Even though some mentors did not spend much time with him, the lasting impact they had will be an inspiration and driving force throughout the novel. Nanny is Peekay's beloved servant who raises him and tells stories and educates him. Nanny teaches Peekay about Zulu people which allows him to accept the diversity among South Africa and the different races around him. Granpa Chook was Peekay's loyal chicken that stood by him and protected him from the evil tortures of the judge. Granpa Chook was the only friend that Peekay had when he was attending the Boer boarding school. Hoppie is a boxer that inspires Peekay to believe that brains are more important and stronger than sheer size and number. Hoppie inspires Peekay to become a boxer and believe in the power of one. Big Hettie was a big woman that Peekay meets at Hoppie's fight. She teaches him to hold his head up high and be courageous in doing so. Before her death, she tells Peekay to remember one thing. “'Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.'” pg 124. Peekay's mentors and coaches all has given him simple life lessons like that, that would add up and entirely shape the person he will become. Doc is an elderly german professor who notices the intellect and genius in Peekay. Doc is interested in the arts, and has become Peekay's personal tutor for music. Doc is the only for of education that Peekay has received since the boarding school. The other mentors in his like has given him life lessons in the form of actions, sayings and memories.

During Peekay's stay at this boarding school, Peekay's only mentor was his pet chicken, Granpa Chook. At the time Granpa Chook was more of a friend then teacher. Granpa Chook was a someone that Peekay could converse to. After his departure from the formal education, he was taken under the wing of many different mentors. Each mentor either traveled with him, kept him company or served as an example as a person that Peekay wishes to be. Of all the mentors, Doc is the most recent one. Doc is a professor who wishes to take Peekay as a student and teach him about music. “'Today I have come to you, please, madame, let me teach him?'” pg 154. Though his previous mentors look to teach Peekay with experience, Doc looks to give him a more formal education.