The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal

Essay by char21 March 2009

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Mistakes are inevitable and sometimes these mistakes we make bring hurt onto others. Everyone has been deeply hurt at some point in their lives, possibly though a friend, a family member, or maybe even a cheating partner. How can we allow ourselves to forgive these people for all the hurt they have caused us? Wiesenthal is a Jewish victim in a Nazi concentration camp In The Sunflower who becomes forced to decide if a dying SS solider deserves his forgiveness. In the end, Wiesenthal invites us to think about what we would have done in his situation. Although I cannot question another person's choice on forgiveness, (especially since I was not there to experience the pain that the Jews felt during the Holocaust) I do believe that everyone should learn to forgive and to continue their lives in emotional freedom.

During the story, Wiesenthal sees beautiful sunflowers lined up on soldier's graves at a local cemetery.

He feels as though the flowers draw in the sun's energy and its happiness and pulls it into the dark ground where the soldier lay. These sunflowers represent joy while still bringing sunshine into these soldiers who have committed endless amounts of crimes and murders. The sunflowers do no give praise for the soldier's actions but instead symbolize that everyone deserves forgiveness and even a second chance to live in peace. Wiesenthal then sees his own grave, a bunch of bodies piled on top of each other, without a sunflower, and without peace.

Even though natural tendency desires revenge to those who have hurt us, refusal to forgive only brings about more pain until it completely takes over our lives. Forgiveness does not condone the other person's decisions or behavior but instead allows us to let go of all the anger and hatred inside.