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Rene McGraw, OSB


The essay, "Elie Wiesel: Moral Action in an Immoral World," is an investigation into the three ways Elie Wiesel's characters in his novel The Town Beyond the Wall deal with their own often painful and confusing views of the absurd world about them. Because The Town Beyond the Wall is a very autobiographical work for Wiesel, the backdrop of chaos found in the novel--the concentration camps, the death of the main character's father, mother and sister, the cold indifference with which the rest of the world watched as the Jews were 'liquidated'--are found in Wiesel's world too. Reading Wiesel's works, one discovers how the chaos of past events such as the Holocaust and Hiroshima not only plague Wiesel's generation but still linger as signs of absurdity at the present. One also comes to realize that current tragedies, such as those in Zaire and Bosnia, darken the shadow chaos casts on the world today. The Town Beyond the Wall calls attention to the different ways one can react to the horrors of the past and the horrors to come: as a spectator, indifferent to others' trials and tribulations, as a mad person, retreating within the chaos of the world, or as an artist, attacking one's fears and molding his own meaning and vision of the world by embracing others and making himself into an artwork.

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