At The Gellért Baths

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Empathy through “At the Gellért Baths” The short story “At the Gellért Baths” by Esmé Schwall tells of a World War Two survivor’s family and their trip back to Hungary, the survivor’s first time back since the war. The survivor and his wife dwell in the past, stuck in a peaceful time where little fear exists; an outsider does not understand this fear. The author wants readers to empathize with the fear and pain that comes with being the survivor of such tragedy. She does this using setting, metaphoric and symbolic language, and point of view; each of these strategies points to a better comprehension of fear for readers. Setting, the time and location in which the story happens, is key in this text. The author places emphasis on location, as a means of directing readers to the fear associated with going somewhere new or somewhere out of the ordinary. “Dinner in Stillwater? It hasn’t been done…show more content…
Schwall writes, “She’ll laugh and shake her head; but you’ve seen the way she too expects disaster, the way she hastens to rigor and achievement, as if perfection alone speeds prayer” (Schwall 341). Point of view in this story finds significance because the story becomes more personal, and thusly better achieves Schwall’s goal of getting readers to try to increase their empathy. She does not choose to write from the perspective of the survivor’s daughter, who seems the more obvious choice, because she herself experiences and lives with the pain and fear that comes with being a survivor’s child. Schwall writes from his perspective because it also belongs to so many readers. Very few people know such tragedy and difficulty in their backgrounds - the survivor’s son-in-law is among this group. Likewise, readers can easily identify with him because few have experienced that which World War Two survivors

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