At The Gellert Baths, By Esme Schwall Essay

At The Gellert Baths, By Esme Schwall Essay

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The short story, “At the Gellert Baths,” by Esme Schwall is narrated by a man married to the daughter of a holocaust survivor. He explains the daughter’s cautious attitude derived from her parents’ fearful ways. The survivor’s daughter wishes to see Hungary with her parents, but they are very uncertain about trying new things and revisiting the past. “At the Gellert Baths,” uses the ideas of fear, uncertainty, and marriage, as well as various textual elements, to energize this short story.
The ideas of fear and uncertainty are closely related, but the two have different uses to enhance this text. The first sign that the daughter’s parents are a very fearful bunch is in the first paragraph. “If you’re married to a survivor’s child, you’re impatient with her parents who are cautious and slow, who treat a bridge, a grocery store, a left-hand turn, a spicy potluck dish, as though it could contain a land-mine” (Schwall 341). The speaker implies that because of the father being a survivor of the holocaust, the daughter is raised by both parents in a very cautious and wavering manner. Wanting a secure future for their daughter, the parents take thorough precautions as described in this excerpt: “You’ve imagined the moment when she finally let herself venture in, her parents tense in their lawn chairs, calling, ‘Not too deep!’ and it’s made you sad to know…her parents praised her buoyancy, as though hanging there, inert, suspended, required skill” (Schwall 341). Her parents are fearful because they want no future uncertainties to occur, which are present only in a world in which they are unfamiliar with. This motivates them to freeze time by preserving the happiest memory of their lives: the daughter’s birth. “One day you’ll sit at her ...


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...ers are more accepting of life from this point on, and the last sentence of the story supports the peaceful tone of the post-trip era. “we’re told not to panic if we’re lost, but just hold still, remain calm, passivity not depravity, sleep not anguish, love not scarce. (Schwall 346).
“At the Gellert Baths,” is a short story of a fearful family of three, narrated by the daughter’s husband. The ideas of fear, uncertainty, and marriage all tie together to energize this story, as well as the purposeful textual elements. Life cannot be contained inside a single era of time or chained forever by fear and uncertainty. Passivity, peace, and love are what we are told to give to our lives in order to truly live happy. We must not panic with every twisty turn life throws our way, or live in fear to discover what life has to offer us next. We must forget and forgive our past.

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