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The Lion Seeker
"Here is the South African novel I've been waiting for." - Lynn Freed
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Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

Created: 08/24/14

Replies: 8

Posted Aug. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

The escalation toward WWII provides a catalyst for many of the characters ' decisions, especially Isaac, Hugo, and Gitelle. What tension is the author creating through this development? This tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much? Is Isaac to blame for any of this hatred?


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 138

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They're on opposite poles

Isaac is a Jew. Magnus is a Nazi. I don't believe Isaac is to blame for any of Magnus's hatred except that he 'exists'. The fight, in which Isaac armored himself, only gave Magnus an excuse for more hatred. He went looking for Isaac's workplace because he hated the fact that Isaac was doing well at his job and he wanted to destroy that.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 184

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RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

When someone is miserable quite often they look for someone to blame; someone who they can make more miserable than themselves. This often manifests itself in hatred for someone of another race, especially if that person is more successful, happier.


Posted Sep. 02, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeanettel

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 53

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RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

Magnus hatred of Isaac was the same hatred that all Nazis felt toward the Jewish people, they were considered less than human and the approaching war just made the hatred worse.


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beac

Join Date: 08/23/11

Posts: 70

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RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

It may have been the author's attempt to run a parallel with what was happening with Hitler and the Jews? Magnus was so consumed with hate I found it difficult to have his character in the story, and I felt worse when Isaac was wronged at his workplace. I think the writing was especially strong with this particular conflict. I sometimes had to put the book down because it had so much feeling, so much unjustness. And a punch in the gut when other workers took Magnus's side or believed him over Isaac.


Posted Sep. 05, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elise

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 30

RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

I was also very bothered by the character of Magnus Oberholzer and his ability to step in and ruin Isaac's life just because he was Jewish. The Nazi regime's hate and contempt for Jews was incredibly strong and contagious and it reached a point where I wonder if they even had a reason, or if they were just part of a mass brainwashing.


Posted Sep. 08, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

Magnus felt very one dimensional in his consuming hatred. The history of South Africa, broadly speaking, is much more interesting than Magnus. Magus found himself clinging to being white when nothing else worked for him. Though he was a skilled mechanic- he was lazy- the only drive to work was Issac? Though he was white- he found himself disenfranchised from the ruling party for most of the book--and the novel skips over the tensions between the British and the Boers. He could have been much more complicated in this novel and his parallels with the the Jews more distinctly drawn.


Posted Sep. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
viquig

Join Date: 06/25/14

Posts: 15

RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

I had no idea that racism against Jews was (is?) so prevalent in South Africa. Oberholzer was a Boer, but my understanding was that Boer's were from Dutch ancestry, not German. Oberholzer was reprehensible, obviously, but his character was never fully developed. N*Starr has a good point, he was disenfranchised from the South African government; but still, his extreme hatred for a Jew seems excessive given what we know about the character.


Posted Sep. 20, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: Tension about race not only reflects in the backdrop of the approaching war but also in characters such as Magnus Oberholzer. Why does Magnus despise Isaac so much?

For Gitelle the tension created by the gathering clouds of war is the race against time to extricate her family from Lithuania before the opportunity for flight is closed. For Hugo the tension is whether the war, with the associated opportunity for profiteering from the scarcity of metal, will come before Hugo has exhausted his resources and self destructs. Isaac similarly was concerned whether his enterprise with Hugo could stay afloat until the war began. In addition, Isaac was deeply troubled by the political environment in South Africa leading up to the war, specifically whether his country would ally itself with Great Britain or with Germany.

As for Meyer's loathing of Isaac, volumes have been written regarding the complex causes of anti-semitism. In short, though, there likely was an element of learned behavior in Meyer's prejudice. Meyer probably was raised in a home and community where expressions of anti-semitism were pervasive. This prejudice allowed Meyer to blame the drudgery of his life on the Jews and to elevate himself using the Jews as a scapegoat. While Meyer singled out Isaac for a special vendetta because of Isaac's actions surrounding the move of the dresser Meyer may very well have focused on any one of his new neighbors for"special treatment" in any event because of his virulent anti-semitism. I do not blame Isaac for Meyer's behavior.


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