Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 508
Max Ferber tells the narrator,
What is certain . . . is that mental suffering is effectively without end. One may think one has reached the very limit, but there are always more torments to come. One plunges from one abyss into the next.
This idea seems to be echoed in each of the other sections. Dr. Henry Selwyn eventually takes his own life after many years of estrangement from his wife, and his failure to feel as good as he did when he was with a good friend who disappeared long ago. Evidently, his suffering continued until he finally made it stop. Likewise, Paul Bereyter takes his own life as well. The tension he feels regarding his home in Germany—his simultaneous feelings of love and hate for it and its people—led to a high degree of internal conflict and suffering that went on until he died. Finally, Ambros Adelwarth must have felt a similar level of suffering, because he committed his lover, Cosmo, to a sanatorium only to follow him years later. He must have been anxious to forget his vivid memories, so anxious, in fact, that he readily submitted to shock therapy, which hastened his own death. Mental suffering is persistent, and we seem to have the capability to feel more deeply and more painfully even when we think we have reached our limit.
The narrator of the final section really gains a feeling of the interrelatedness of human beings through our shared experiences, like emigration. When he explores a Jewish cemetery in the final section, he notes the decay of the gravestones and the overgrowth of weeds and is profoundly affected by the sight of stones erected for people he does not know. He says,
I was touched, in a way I knew I could never quite fathom, by the symbol of the writer's quill on the stone of Friederike Halbleib, who departed this life on the 28th of March 1912. I imagined her pen in hand, all by...
(The entire section contains 508 words.)
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