“At a certain age we begin to define ourselves, to choose an image of who we are. I am this and not that, we say, attempting thus to erase whatever is within us that does not fit our idea of who we should be. In time we forget our earliest selves and replace that memory with the image we have constructed at the bidding of others” (Griffin, p. 341). Based on our readings, what Griffin is saying about Heinrich Himmler could also be applied to. . . .

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This excerpt is from Susan Griffin's critically acclaimed essay "Our Secret," from her nonfiction book A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War. In the quoted passage, Griffin is commenting on Himmler's psychological evolution as a person. Griffin used firsthand sources to construct Himmler's life, from childhood to his suicide in 1945. For instance, Griffin used Himmler's own journals and letters to gain an understanding of his earliest thoughts and personality.

Throughout the forty-eight–page essay, Griffin also recounts her own childhood to show her and Himmler's similarities and differences. She also shows the contrasts in how they experienced the war, with her being a young Jewish girl and him being a high-ranking Nazi official.

The excerpt is an example of Griffin's use of intertwining narratives. She is talking not only about Himmler's psychological makeup but also her own. The duality of our natural earlier personality and our self-image, or the persona we construct based on that self-image, is universal.

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