Antigone Reading Response
For Every Sin, There is a Resolution: An Analysis on Theo’s Internal and External Conflicts In many literary works, characters tend to have both an “inner life” and a “public life”. In For Every Sin, written by Aharon Appelfeld, Theo faces many conflicts between his memories of both his parents and his struggles on staying with the refugees. These conflicts do not only have an impact on his destination, but they also define his character, introduce him to his own personal identity, and develop his internal conflicts with the refugees that he has encountered throughout the novel.
From the very beginning of Theo’s story, his parents have always been misunderstanding each other. In fact, his parents have a totally opposite personality. His mother is an unbalanced and an easy going person. In addition, she believes that life is very precious, and that they need to enjoy every part of it. For this reason, she goes on trips most of the time. She is fond of going on small trips, and always takes Theo with her. They would go and visit towns, countryside, and chapels. She loves going to Christian chapels because she is inspired by music. Only endless, aimless journeys, in which she revered roadside chapels and church music, calmed her down” (Balanan 102), which is the reason why his father lets her go outside and does not oppose her from continuing the senseless trips. Also, he does not want her to get bored from staying home and be out of control. Theo loves going with her mother as “her mother enthralled him with her charms” ( Appelfeld 93). Because of this realization, his father sees that Theo “was also not under his control” (Appelfeld 93). On the other hand, Theo’s father is a very logical, balanced, and considering person.
He wants Theo to have a good education because he believes that it is very necessary for everyone to have a successful life. For all that, Theo loves and understands his mother more than his father because he does not quite feels a connection with his father. These past memories from his family greatly affect his plan on going on a steady trip to his destination. Equally important, Theo does not have a strong connection with his parents. He is used to connecting with his mother physically and mentally because they spend numerous moments together.
On the contrary, he is mentally distant with his father because he is not close to him like he is to his mother. Due to the fact that his mother has an illness, his parents often do not get along about certain things. These not only include their problem in relationship as a husband and wife, but also their will about Theo’s future. His mother never really cares whether he will or will not continue on going to school. On the other hand, his father ultimately wants Theo to get a good education. This can be seen when Theo’s father complains that he has missed so many school days during the trips with his mother.
Because he feels like “his father’s presence in the house wasn’t real” (Appelfeld 91), he has found the presence of a father’s figure through his mother. In addition, his father is a very straight forward person, and seldom talks. While his father is very detached to him, his mother and he would always go on small trips. At that time, he is appreciating his mother more than his father, so he wants to please her. However, Theo goes to his father more after realizing that his mother is putting so much financial problems to his father because of the senseless trips.
Moreover, Theo fully understands why his father could no longer allow the trips his mother strongly wants to do. At the same time, his mother’s sickness is adding more expenses to his father as well. This can be seen when his father decides to hospitalize her mother in the sanatorium. For all that burden, his father decides to break apart and divorce his wife. tells the rabbi. During the process of their divorce, he tells his wife to “free me of these bonds. I cannot bear it any longer. I am losing my mind” (Appelfeld 94).
As an effect of his own personal experiences with his parents, Theo struggles several times when he enters the camp. Moreover, he is very determined to stay on course, but he could not control both his body and mind. As he goes through his path, he sees and encounters the refugees. Internally, he feels like he is obligated to take care of the refuges, so he stays and joins their company. However, because he is still struggling about his memories of his parents, he did not stay for long and choose to leave them instead. When he meets Mina along the way, he remember his mother.
At that time, Theo stays with her because he once again feels his mother’s presence through her. For that reason, he keeps drawing back to the refugee even if her does not want to, and he is blocked by his internal conflict. Subsequently, he blames himself for his inconsistency on his journey. At that moment, he is very disappointed and tells himself that “if he had gone straight, this disaster wouldn’t have happen to me. One must remain faithful to his path”(Appelfeld 90). An instance of this is when Theo pushes the refugee that causes him to be unconscious.
Throughout his journey, Theo needs to stay with the refugees for comfort, but he does not want to be surrounded with other people. He believes that the refugees will not be able tp not only understand, but also help him solve with internal conflict with his parents. Moreover, his memories from mother influence his search for his personal identity. He tries to run away from Judaism and convert Christianity. After all what he has experienced, this step is the only way he thinks could help him have a peace mind.
In addition, as he runs away from his religion, he is assuming that he is running away from his internal struggles with his parents, and that it is leading him to his real own identity. Though this may be working for him, the refugees do not like his idea of converting to Christianity. In fact, it draws him away from the refugee more because mostly everyone in the camp is Judaist. Eventually, he realizes that if he stays with his own kind, the refugees, and his religion, he will be able to move on and solve his previous problems from the past.
In this way, he will have a peace of mind, and does not have to stay away from the refugees. Throughout For Every Sin, Theo has repeatedly remembers his internal struggles with his parents. These conflicts had a great impact on his destination and his search for his own personal identity. Furthermore, these also cause him to feel uncertain about staying with the refugees and continuing his journey. His memories from his parents are stopping him from dealing with the reality. Finally, he has solved his problems by realizing that he needs to move on so that he could face the actuality.