History and Memory

Shannen Smith
Yr 12
Advanced English
History and Memory

Deliberate selection from recollection and fact is often represented in texts you have studied. How effectively has your response been manipulated by the representation of such selection?
In your response, refer to your prescribed text and two pieces of additional material.

History alone is insufficient in understanding the past. Its authority individually discounts the personal perspective that memory provides. Mark Raphael Baker’s novel The Fiftieth Gate represents how history and memory do not have a singular or absolute truth. Baker explores how there will always be different perspectives throughout past events. Similarly, Pablo Picasso’s 1937 painting ‘Guernica’ and Sian Prior’s literary article ‘Remembering Balibo’ demonstrate how different representations of history and memory can interrelate in order to create a deeper understanding of the past. In addition to this, all three of these texts highlight the complexities within history and memory.

Access to the truth is more tangible when it is gleaned through memories of the past rather than sifted from historical data and artifacts. Throughout The Fiftieth Gate, Baker attempts to meld history and memory together, but in doing so he realizes that they do not verify one another. In telling the stories of his parents, Genia and Yossl, Baker discovers the impact of history on personal experience. Whilst researching the story of his father, Baker came across Yossl’s old school report. This small slip of paper represented the hard, factual evidence of his deprived childhood. In discovering Yossl’s poor school attendance, it emphasized his experiences as a child of anti-Semitism. This is also evidenced by Baker’s question of curiosity, ‘Where were you during that last term of school?’. Yossl’s reply was simply ‘scared’. The small words exchanged between father and son further the notion of history’s factual impact on personal understanding. Baker...