A father was quarrelling with his mother and was a

A father was quarrelling with his mother and was a

A father was quarrelling with his mother and was also inclined to be a collaborator¬Ě [with the Nazi occupying forces]; his elder brother had been killed in the German offensive of 1940 and this young man, with a sentiment somewhat primitive but generous, burned to avenge him. His mother was living alone with him, deeply afflicted by the semi-treason of his father and by the death of her eldest son, and her one consolation was in this young man. But he, at this moment, had the choice between going to England to join the Free French Forces [those that were now fighting the Germans from outside the country] or of staying near his mother and helping her to live. He fully realized that this woman lived only for him and that his disappearance or perhaps his death would plunge her into despair. He also realized that, concretely and in fact, every action he performed on his mothers behalf would be sure of effect in the sense of aiding her to live, whereas anything he did in order to go and fight would be an ambiguous action which might vanish like water into sand and serve no purpose. For instance, to set out for England he would have to wait indefinitely in a Spanish camp on the way through Spain; or, on arriving in England or in Algiers he might be put into an office to fill up forms. (Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions (New York: The Philosophical Library, 1957), pp. 24-5).


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