What Fiction Teaches People about War and Refugees.

Videos show a glimpse of what it is like for people trapped in war zones, but no one knows what it is like for these individuals except these individuals. Though it is not a complete understanding of what it is these people experience, characters in fiction, who are portrayed in war zones, can provide readers some clue to the fear and death these people experience in war, as civilians. Kristin Hannah does this in, The Nightingale. 

I can only imagine what it is like to live in a war ruined city. Living in a country where people have to worry about being captured by the enemy, shot, or blown up, is horror I have never experienced. Movies, television, and books portray characters, in fiction, who exist in these particular times and places of war. Today, people deal with war ridden cities. For example, refugees had to flee Syria to escape war. The Vietnamese had to live in the middle of the Vietnam War. Many other places, including Africa, war is at peoples’ front door. People are afraid of what they will wake up to, or afraid of not waking up at all, live in fear of losing the people dear to them.

In Kristin Hannah’s, The Nightingale, she portrays two sisters who have to endure the impact of World War II, as the Nazis invade their home country, France.  Their freedom, happiness, and homes fall victim to the invading enemy. Where the streets were once filled with people walking nonchalantly to work, school and other destinations, smiling and talking is replaced with people hiding in their homes, standing with their backs bent and hungry, in line for rations of food that are barely enough for a meal. Artillery vehicles cover the once lively landscape. Posters of Hitler remind them their freedom means execution. Relationships are tested and new ones are formed. Trusting others, even their own countryman, is dangerous.

What keeps these sisters going is their strong affection for one another and their desire to survive. One awaits her loved one to return home from war while the other despises the Nazis so much it fuels her willingness to survive. Though the book is not based on a true story, it is surrounded by true events, and the author creates a world so realistic that makes me care about these characters. It aids me in sympathizing with people in France and other parts of Europe who had to live through war. This happens today, and the refugees in Syria are just one example of people who have to live in fear because of war.

The author provides a clear visual of the beautiful landscape where the setting takes place. Then she paints a picture of a bleak landscape as a result of the war. Her choice of words, imagery, and narration makes it impossible to not see the physical, emotional, and mental pain, the war places on the characters. What is like for people who have to live through war around them? This is not easy to answer because there is no answer, only answers, and these can only be found from people who know from personal experience what it is like to live in war. Waking up everyday having to worry whether their loved ones and they will held hostage, prisoners,shot, or if a bomb will drop on their homes. People outside of these horrible experiences observe through news papers, magazine articles, social media, and on the internet. This will hardly lend understanding, or moreover empathy for the individuals who are trapped in these war zones, or who have been trapped in past wars. Fiction and nonfiction will give readers ideas of what it is like to live in countries and cities dominated by war. Who are these authors? What makes them experts? Maybe nothing qualifies them as experts. On the other hand, they may be writing from a personal experience; whereas, fiction writers have at least researched enough to provide the closest justification for victims in war zones.

Lessons can be taught and learned through fiction.

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