Synopsis of the Book the Sunflower on the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness Book Report

Total Length: 730 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 2

Page 1 of 2

Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

Even thought it sounds somewhat like a cliche, it is also true that suffering is part of human life. For some, however, suffering is so extreme that little sense can be attached to it, especially while suffering is ongoing. One example of such extreme suffering is that of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi's during World War II. Much has been written and said in response to these events by both Jews and non-Jews. One of the most compelling reflections on the events is Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. The focus point of this book is an event during the author's stay in a Nazi concentration camp. On his way to a work detail, he is taken from the ranks to hear the confession of a dying Nazi soldier. At the end of the narrative, Wiesenthal invites responses to his actions and decisions. The book ends with numerous responses from philosophers, theologians, leaders, and others.

Central to the book is Wiesenthal's silence in response to the soldier's request for forgiveness. Within the context of the author's suffering of the time, this response makes sense. The symbol of the sunflower, for example, represents Wiesenthal's envy of the Nazi's, who are privileged even in death.
They receive crosses with their names on them. They receive sunflowers and butterflies on marked graves. Wiesenthal and his family and his nation do not. Hence, within the Jewish culture at the time, there is only suffering. This suffering has caused not only envy in Wiesenthal's heart, but also resentment. Within this context, it is impossible for Wiesenthal to forgive the begging man on his deathbed. What makes his narrative most interesting is the honesty with which he recounts the events and questions his own decision to remain silent. One might consider Wiesenthal's visit to the soldier's mother and his decision to comfort her with a lie an attempt to atone for refusing to voice forgiveness and provide the soldier with a peaceful death.

There are many responses to Wiesenthal's work, including some who would offer forgiveness, others who would not, and even those who would condemn the soldier's soul to hell for his cruel actions. One response is offered by the Dalai Lama. The Dalai can be regarded as a person who would identify with the suffering Jews in Wiesenthal's….....

Have Any Questions? Our Expert Writers Can Answer!

Need Help Writing Your Essay?