Danielle Steel's The Ring - A Thin Line Between Fiction and Reality

Danielle Steel's The Ring - A Thin Line Between Fiction and Reality

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Danielle Steel's The Ring - A Thin Line Between Fiction and Reality


Fiction can be considered something invented by the imagination. Although many people might feel that fiction is totally exclusive of reality, I believe that there is a very thin line between fiction and reality. This is proved in Danielle Steel's The Ring, where she has used common characters and placed them in realistic situations, facing everyday realistic issues. The Ring gives the reader a sense of realism in a fictitious novel. In fact, Danielle Steel does a really good job, portraying the characters in realistic situations such as Kassandra dealing with her affair, Walmar acting as an overprotective father to Ariana and Gerhard, and Ariana struggling to find her family. All these characters have been intertwined in a real historical setting that has, to some extent, led to their dilemmas.

Kassandra's affair with Dolff is a result of being married to an elderly man, Walmar, in an arranged marriage. While Kassandra's affair cannot be justified, it is dealt with realistically as many women might engage in a similar activity under the given circumstances. These circumstances are best described by Danielle Steel, as follows, "Her assistance wasn't needed, her help, or her love, or her time" (20). There is no doubt that some women in her place would have an affair to feel special, important, and needed. And that is exactly how Dolff has made her feel. Danielle Steel confirms, "And with Dolff, Kassandra had found what she had always so desperately needed, someone who understood the odd meanderings of her soul, the longings, the fragmented pieces, the rebelliousness against the lonely restrictions of her world" (12). While this affair may seem immoral and wrong, it presents a realistic state that many people, both men and women can relate to, as seen in the movie version. Even the brutal murder of Dolff by the Nazis and Kassandra’s suicide are realistic consequences foreshadowed in Walmar’s earlier warning to Kassandra to stop the affair.

Walmar also plays a pivotal part in The Ring, and just like Kassandra, he has been placed in some harsh and realistic circumstances as an overprotective father. Walmar has grown more attached to his children, Ariana and Gerhard, after his wife’s suicide. Just like any father, Walmar wants to protect his children from anything and everything, after losing their mother.

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Danielle Steel justifies this action:

He vowed silently to protect them from the evil that

had so brutally destroyed his wife. No matter what

happened to his country, no matter how badly their

values were betrayed, he would let nothing happen to

the children.(53)

Steel defines the father-children relationship so well that it

mirrors a realistic portrayal of relationships between most fathers and their children in real life situations.

Walmar also acts like most fathers would at Ariana’s first ball, where she is receiving a lot of looks, as well as, some compliments. He wants to hold on to her for as long as he can, but realistically, he has to let go at times. This authoritarian figure comes into play when Ariana is asked to her first dance by a Nazi, where Walmar responds, “She’s a bit too young to be here tonight, but I gave my consent as long as she remains with me” (62).

However, realizing how he cannot shelter Ariana forever, he respects her and eventually starts to open up to her about her mother. He tells Ariana:

The tragedy of Kassandra was not that she was in

love with a man other than her husband, but that her

country had fallen into the hands of the Nazis, and

the man she loved so desperately was a Jew. . .She

wouldn’t leave either one of us. . .She was equally

devoted to him. . .She felt she had to offer her

life to secure ours. . .That, Ariana, is the story

of your mother, who loved a man the Nazis wanted

dead. . .So, in a sense they {Nazis} killed her.

(84-85)



This conversation is very critical in the novel, as well as in real life because every child has a right to know about his or her parents’ past, especially if it relates to the child’s future. It is critical also the way it affects Ariana in her future choices, especially not to give up her own child.

Walmar’s relationship with Gerhard is quite realistic too, because he helps his son escape from Germany to avoid his draft into the army. As a parent, no one is willing to support a decision that would lead his or her children to death.

Therefore, Walmar has to do anything he possibly can in order to save his son’s life, and help him flee Germany. He shows that he is a better father than a patriot, which is what many people would do. It is certain that a loving parent will choose his or her children over his or her country any day, and that is exactly what Walmar has done.

In addition, Ariana’s struggle to find her family has been dealt with very sensitively by Danielle Steel. Ariana has been placed in a few realistic circumstances in an effort to find her family. These circumstances coincidentally arise in her times of need that introduce her to Manfred Von Tripp and Paul Liebman.

Lieutenant Manfred Von Tripp helps Ariana get through her harsh times by comforting her in her time of need, by offering her a comfortable home in place of a cell. Ariana eventually moves in with Manfred, and starts living with him. Realistically, any woman in her place would live with Manfred too, given the circumstances she has faced. Danielle Steel describes it best when she says, “She belonged to the Third Reich, a possession, an object, like a bed or a chair, and she could be used accordingly, if someone chose to” (127). Eventually, Ariana falls in love with Manfred, as expected because most people living together end up falling in love, after sharing common interests. In time, their love for each

other leads to their marriage, which is where most love stories end up.

After Manfred’s death, in the bombing that has ended World War II, Ariana once again finds herself alone. This is where she meets Paul Liebman, who offers her everything from a new life to a new love. Paul insists that she stay with him and his family, to which she eventually agrees. Paul is just recovering from a breakup with his fiance, and Ariana from Manfred’s death, which is where their paths cross. Their tragic pasts bring the two to a friendship that eventually grows to love on Paul’s part.

Unaware of Ariana’s past with Manfred, his baby, or her race, Paul asks Ariana to marry him. Danielle Steel adds, “If she did marry him, out of gratitude for what he would be giving her child, she would always be good to him” (270). After being offered a home, a future, a loving man, and a new life, Ariana can not say no. So she finally agrees to marry Paul. Although it seems wrong on Ariana’s part, most women would do the same if they were presented with a similar situation. Paul would be acting as a safety net for Ariana that would guarantee her love, and a secure future for herself, and the baby.

Many women, just like Ariana, would even make Paul believe that Manfred’s baby is actually his own. Ariana is finally forced to open up to Paul, so she tells him the whole truth

about Manfred, the baby, and her race. “She wanted to lie to him, for the child’s sake, but she could no longer do it” (277). Steel has dealt with this conversation very well, because Ariana represents women of all times, and Paul, the men. Since the book is fiction, the reader would be inclined to believe that Paul forgives her and understands, but realistically no man can forgive such a lie. And that is what Danielle Steel shows, when Paul asks for a divorce. Even though some of these secret acts by Ariana cannot be fully justified, they can be understood realistically by most men and women. In fact, Steel’s artistic talent is shown in her symbolic use of the ring and the picture, to finally unite Ariana and her brother in a most realistic coincidence.

Danielle Steel’s The Ring has proven to be a fine example of ‘a thin line between fiction and reality’. She uses normal

characters, engaging in normal activities, dealing with their dilemmas like normal people do. The only factor that seems to cause most of these dilemmas is the setting, which is depicted in Germany during World War II. Ann Charters explains it best when she says, “To set the scene, the writer attempts to create in the reader’s visual imagination the illusion of a solid world in which the story takes place” (1559). Therefore, Danielle Steel has done a remarkable job of portraying her characters, as well as, their situations concurrent to the setting, by blending reality into a fictitious world.

Works Cited

Charters, Ann. The Story and Its Writer. 3rd ed. Boston: St. Martin’s, 1999.

The Ring by Danielle Steel. Dir. Armond Mastroianni. Perf. Michael York, Jon Tenney, Tim Dekay, James B.Sikking, and Julie Cox. Lifetime Special Presentation, May 27, 2002.

Steel, Danielle. The Ring. New York: Delacorte Press, 1980.
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