Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen to the Gas Chamber

As mentioned in class, the tone in Borowski's, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the Gas Chamber, was often times sarcastic and casual. For example, Borwoski says on page 2774, "Several of us are sitting right now on a top bunk swinging our legs in a carefree manner. We take out white, extravagantly baked bread: crumbly, falling to pieces, a little provoking in taste, but, for all that, bread that had not been molding for weeks." In this statement, Borowski uses a sarcastic and casual tone to try to depict the characters, the narrator and Henri, as being carefree subjects, who are casually lounging on the bunk, happy that they have bad tasting bread. In all reality, he is only mocking the several week old bread that is molding and tastes awful. His use of sarcasm reminds me of Flann O'Brien's, The Poor Mouth. O'Brien used sarcasm to overemphasize certain stereotypes that had been developed about the Gaelic people. In Borowski's case, I think he uses sarcastic undertones to not only detach himself from the gruesome situation, but also bring to the forefront what life in a concentration camp is truly like.

I also felt Borowski used a very serious tone in his writing. Take for instance, when the beautiful, young lady asks the narrator where she is being taken. The narrator does not respond, then she responds saying, "I already know." As we all know, she puts herself on the truck that is headed to the gas chamber. But the question remains as to why Borowski appears to switch tones near the end of the story? I think the girl's actions causes the author to rethink what he is taking part in as a prisoner. His tone becomes much less sarcastic after that, and much more critical about his life and the lives of others in the camp. I really felt that this had strong ties to Borowski's own suicide and the fact that, as said by Emiliano Zapata, "It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

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