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Analysis of Our Secret by Susan Griffin

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Analysis of Our Secret by Susan Griffin

Throughout “Our Secret” Griffin explores the different characters’ fears and secrets and she gives specific insights into these “secrets”. Through examining others Griffin comes to terms with her own feelings, secrets, and fears. She relates to Himmler, Leo, Helene, and everyone else even though she is different than all of them. One fact that can be made about all of these characters is that they all represent humans and human emotion
First, Griffin reveals that there is a hidden side to everyone that is only known within, and anything outside could be a false representation, or imposter. “I think of it now as a kind of mask, not an animated mask that expresses the essence of an inner truth, but a mask that falls like dead weight over the human face” (Griffin 349). This quote captures what she is trying to say about secrets being the barrier to others’ feelings. The mask Griffin talks about represents the barrier to the secrets. Having this mask shields what is on the inside.
Griffin explores Heinrich Himmler and the secrets that are hidden within him. Throughout his childhood Himmler’s secrets and thoughts were hidden, overshadowed by a mask or barrier formed by his upbringing and culture.
What occurs if the soul in its small beginnings is forced to take on a secret life? He harbors his secrets in fear and guilt, confessing them to no one until in time the voice of his father chastising him becomes his own. A small war is waged in his mind (Griffin 352).
Griffin is saying that Himmler has these hidden secrets that are suppressed and it’s creating a conflict within. These are the barriers to Himmler’s emotions created by his upbringing and ideas. Griffin is stating in this quote that having to keep a secret creates emotional instability, which affects the well being of the individual. The barrier of the secret creates a barrier to true emotions. When someone has a secret their true emotions are hidden within and it is unknown.
Griffin relates with this conflict that Himmler has. This is shown throughout her essay. “But at this moment in his life Heinrich is facing a void. I remember a similar void, when a long and intimate relationship ended. What I felt then was fear. And at times panic” (Griffin 358). The void that Griffin is talking about is the same void Himmler had and that is feelings ...


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...ain of a child’s body. Curled and small, Innocent. The skin soft like velvet to the touch. Eyes open and staring without reserve or calculation, quite simply, into the eyes of whoever appears in this field of vision. Without secrets. Arms open, ready to receive or give, just in the transpiration of flesh, sharing the sound of the heartbeat, the breath, the warmth of body on body (Griffin 391).
In this quote Griffin is saying that a baby is born with no secrets, innocent with arms wide open and then she is implying that at that point in a persons life is the only point where there are no secrets. She is saying that it is impossible for someone to not have secrets. It is just human nature like the innocence of a newborn baby.
The point Griffin is getting at is that secrets/barriers lead to misconceptions about others and it affects the feelings of human beings. Once these secrets can be revealed and feelings can be exposed then it will help people understand themselves and better understand others.



Works Cited

Griffin, Susan. “Our Secret”. Ways of Reading Eds. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Sixth edition. Boston. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002.


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