Analysis Of At The Gellert Baths

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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…show more content…
Marriage provides a safe feeling of having a reliable friend and partner, but it is also a big uncertainty that requires commitments and variables to overcome. “ You’ll find yourself saying that she only has the rare week off from the hospital, that it would be nice to spend it alone, once in a while, just the two of you, instead of always with her parents” (Schwall 343). Variables such as constantly making the daughter’s parents a priority, hardly getting chances to spend time with his own parents, and rarely getting time alone with his wife are not what the speaker had in mind. He wants to be certain that his wife still loves and cares for him because, “her parents get the best of her- the largest reserves of her energy and endurance and thought” (Schwall 343). The speaker cares about Hungary, but cares more about planning a trip with his wife, tired of the commitment of reserving all leisure time for the daughter’s parents. He feels he has lost the part of marriage that is safe and certain; to have a reliable partner and friend who will drop everything, do anything, and take risks to spend time…show more content…
“At the Gellert Baths,” is written in first person except every place that “I” could be used, it is replaced by “you.” This seems to make the story more personal, allowing the audience to experience the speaker’s desire for risk in a world of fear dominated by the daughter and her parents. The use of the word survivor several times on nearly every page emphasizes that there is still a sense of relief and celebration after over 50 years after the holocaust, as if the wife and daughter went through this trauma with the father. This touches on the idea of marriage, that by agreeing to spend eternity with another person you are also accepting their baggage. The tone of the story precedent to and following the trip to Hungary is also significant. In the beginning of the story, the parents are hesitant of taking the trip because they do not wish to relive the fathers past and bring back holocaust memories. They speaker also has objections to the trip because he wishes to utilize the vacation time in a more personal and romantic fashion for his wife and himself. He does not believe the mother and father will ever adjust from a fearful to passive attitude. Traveling to Hungary is what eventually unites all the characters. Following the excursion, the tone shifts from fearful and allusive to pleasant and peaceful. “Before you return to the dressing room the

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