Essay On History And Memory In Mark Baker's The Fiftieth Gate

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Although history is perceived to be more credible than memory, in actuality, both the former and the latter act as an interdependent and interconnected continuum in which they aid in the verification of the credibility of particular situations. However, even when working inextricably both have a void that can only be filled by imagination. Mark Baker through his biographical memoir The Fiftieth Gate exemplifies not only the abhorrence of genocide and the loss of innocence, but also the concept that history and memory act in a symbiotic relationship, amplifying the stark and confronting reality of these situations. On the other hand, Art Spiegelman graphic novel titled Maus, through literary and visual means of representation, emphasises an overreliance on history. The textual composition of The fiftieth gate reveals the…show more content…
Baker has deliberately reconstructed the text in a fragmented and disconnected manner, much like the Jewish Midrash, to highlight the limitations of memory and a preference for history. Throughout the text Baker uses historical documents to corroborate his parent’s memories and when he continues to hear his mother’s story he constantly doubt its legitimacy as there is no historical evidence to validate it. Genia’s frustration is therefore depicted in “Yes. What do you think, I’m making this up?”. Here, Baker clearly shows, through rhetorical question and an aggressive tone, that he will not accept a version of an event based purely on memory. It is in this manner that the text shapes the responders understanding of history’s preference and that memory’s subjective and fragmented nature forces it to provide an inadequate insight into an event. The composer, in this instance believes his mother’s memories of the holocaust are a fabrication and that the concrete documented history he studies is everlasting and

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