The Sojourn

by Andrew Krivak

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Jozef has visions of his mother four or five times throughout Andrew Krivak's novel The Sojourn. What specific purpose or goal might Krivak have by including these visions?

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In Andrew Krivak's novel The Sojourn, the mother of protagonist Jozef Vinich died when he was just an infant. She had been walking with Jozef and her nephew on train tracks, thinking that the train was not due for a while. However, the train took her by surprise, and she had only enough time to toss baby Jozef into a river where older boys were playing. Jozef was rescued, but she and her nephew were killed. It's just before Jozef leaves for World War I as an under-aged enlistee that Jozef's father tells him the story of her death and explains what else happened to drive them to leave America to return to Slovakia. Since Jozef's mother saved his life at the expense of her own, she often appears as a symbol of preservation in the face of impending doom.

One time he sees a vision of his mother in a dream he has soon before a very bloody battle takes place in Görz, where their divisional headquarters are. Jozef narrates that, in his dream, she looked afraid of something; she is also shimmering. She waved to Jozef, possibly in a gesture of goodbye, and started to walk away from him. When Jozef shouts, "No!," in his dream, she turns around, stretches out her hands towards him, possibly in a gesture that says, "Stop," and says to him, "Stay, Jozef. You'll be safe." Though he implores her to remain with him, she continues to walk away, "with her back to [Jozef], until she dissipated like a mist" (p. 86). Immediately after she leaves him in the dream, the bloody battle at Görz begins.

Since she seems to be afraid in the dream in conjunction with the fact that, in real life, she sacrificed her life for Jozef's, it is clear that her appearance represents and foreshadows impending doom. Plus, since she tells him to stay and says he will be safe in conjunction with the fact that, in real life, she managed to save him as an infant, we also know her vision represents his safety and foreshadows that, despite the bloody battle he is about to face, he will remain alive. Hence, all in all, Jozef subconsciously turns to his mother's image whenever he is about to be faced with danger and needs comfort. For the reader, her image foreshadows impending doom and Jozef's future survival.

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