"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This is the first sentence of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. As such, tragic stories are relatively diverse compared to happy stories ranging from tragic love, tragic history and death to tragedy created by society. We feel various emotions such as compassion, fear, sadness, and shock through these stories. We also purify our emotions through tragedy and get some realization. This SMT reporter will introduce two tragic works that convey important messages to us.
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
- Nick Carraway
<The Great Gatsby (1925)>
Gatsby, who comes from a poor peasant family, is a poor but ambitious officer. Before participating in World War I, he meets Daisy while stationed at a base and falls in love at first sight. Daisy, a high-class woman, and Gatsby fall in love with each other, but he is shipped out to Europe. Daisy marries Tom, a super-rich man from Chicago, without getting over the sadness of leaving Gatsby. Gatsby finds out that she is married as soon as he returns home after the war. He realizes that in order to get together with her again, he has to have enough material wealth to be accepted in the capitalistic society. He begins to save money by any means, such as illegally selling alcohol and stolen securities. He eventually achieves great fortune, but he becomes mentally poor due to ethical corruption. Will Gatsby win Daisy's heart again? What will happen to them?
The Great Gatsby is set in New York in the 1920s, and its ostensible theme is the American Dream. It is not a typical novel that comes to mind or is often mentioned when one thinks about tragedy. This is because Gatsby has accumulated enormous wealth and enjoys tremendous material wealth. However, the problem is that he gained money illegally. He believes that if he succeeds in a capitalistic society, he will win Daisy's love and live a happy life, but in reality, it isn't like that. Gatsby shows the morally corrupt American society at that time and opens our eyes to the illusion of materialism. It was published in the U.S. in the 1920s, but it is not very different from the reality of Korean society today. Modern society likewise idolizes something rich and fancy, but greed, selfishness, and mental emptiness lurk everywhere. This may be one of the reasons why it is gaining popularity among many people and is well-regarded now. Fitzgerald, the author, criticizes humanity lost in a secular, materialistic society, and the tragedy it causes. The Great Gatsby is worth reading because it shows the tragedy of the individual created by social structure well.
"Is the farm related to Dad's new job?"
<The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)>
Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, moved from Berlin to a house next to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland due to his father's promotion. Bruno, a 9-year-old, considers the place next to his house as a farm and is curious as to why everyone who works there wears striped pajamas. His parents who know the origin of the smoke from the camp try not to let Bruno know the truth of the camp. Bruno, who likes to explore, thinks that there must be more to this desolate place than meets the eye. He walks around the forest without his family knowing, finds a barbed-wire fence, and meets Schumuel, a Jewish boy of the same age. Bruno brings bread to Schumuel, takes something to play with and spends time with him. They become friends even though their life and environment are very different. What will happen to their friendship?
<The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)> is set in 1942 and is based on an original novel. It won the Audience Award in the 44th Chicago International Film Festival and topped "The 25 most depressing movies ever made" by the American film review site, Total Film. It unfolds from the pure perspective of a child named Bruno. What he considers a farm is the Auschwitz concentration camp created in Nazi Germany by Adolf Hitler to exterminate Jewish people. Nazi Germany exterminated Jewish civilians and prisoners from 1941 to 1945 through gas chambers, forced labor, and medical experiments. The fact that the camp was more severe and crueler than the movie shows shocks us even more. This movie contrasts the harsh reality with the pure and curious appearance of children. It re-examines historical facts that should not be repeated by emphasizing the reality of the time tragically through the children's friendship. Their friendship makes us sad and makes us consider many things.