What Is Left the Daughter Themes

Themes

The Impact of War

The novel is set during World War II, and even though it takes place far from the front lines in Europe, it highlights many of the devastating and difficult circumstances that war brings to everyone involved. It illustrates the hatred and racism that exist for those at all associated with the enemy and those who use that hatred as an excuse for horrible violence. Hans shows that not all Germans were Nazis and that many Germans were vehemently against the atrocities of their country. War affects families, tearing them apart from within, and even causes people to lose touch of reality and sanity. The novel also shows how war can bring out the best and the worst in people. Cornelia shows benevolence and an open heart for all people, and Donald shows how good people can become violent and hateful; war is the catalyst for these character illuminations. War also has many casualties, even of innocent people on the sidelines. War affects people in unpredictable ways.

Racism

Throughout the course of the book, racism shows itself through anti-German sentiments related to World War II. The novel shows how hatred of a particular race can blind people to all else, even the humanity and decency in those around them. The hatred of Germans extends beyond members of the race to anyone associated with the Germans. For example, after Hans visits a record store and speaks some German to the owner, locals who saw the conversation beat the owner nearly to death. This brutality was carried out in the name of protecting the country from the Germans. Hans, who was a good man whose family fled Germany, was labeled a Nazi by anyone who knew he was a German, and their racism made it difficult for him to live a normal life. In fact, he had a hard time finding a minister who would perform his marriage to Tilda. While some characters were able to look beyond race to the human beneath, others struggled to overcome...

(The entire section is 770 words.)