"The typically human act of trying to see oneself is always fascinating, agonizing, comical, for we can never turn fast enough to see all sides at once in the mirror. And the greatest trick remains seeing how we see" ('The Polish Complex' Intro, page V). Throughout 'The Polish Complex' and 'Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light', there is a concept of waiting, and an understanding of the characters through not only what they do when they wait, and what they are waiting for, but also the fact that they are waiting at all. The concept of waiting in both stories are written with a mixture of agony, fascination, and dark comedy yet always seems to have this deep sadness to it.
'The Polish Complex' by Tadeusz Konwicki displays how man attempts to understand himself in a world that is incomprehensible, in a world that isn't there anymore, in a stale world: a world full of waiting. What are the characters in Konwicki's novel waiting for? Freedom, but in a broad sense. This book in particular draws heavily on freedom, or I should say, the lack of freedom. "My [you, the second person here is extremely interesting] sweetheart is Poland, golden haired Poland, bloody and enslaved" ('The Polish Complex', 81). This is a story about love, love of Poland; a country that exists more in the mental world of the people than the physical. Yet the people of Poland are captive not only by their strong controlling communist government but also captive in their inability to stop waiting. There is not just a wish for Poland to be free, but also a wish for the people of Poland to get their share, what they deserve; to be free of waiting. Throughout the book, there is this longing to have a different life, to stop waiting in line for the UN to "give us a whiff of freedom" ('The Polish Complex' 119), to have that "miracle of understanding" ('The Polish Complex' 106).
[...] They will even die on line as shown on page 96 when the main character complains about dying, and is answered with, wonder, all those hours in line.” (The Polish Complex 96) The line seems to me a symbol of waiting for freedom. All people, young and old, end up on this line, waiting for different bits of the same thing, different colors of freedom. They are told that they have “lines in England” (The Polish Complex and France they have to wait in lines for hours (The Polish Complex and on page 89 the main character is told that there are also lines in America. [...]
[...] The other characters around the main character can't see why he is waiting for the light, they ask him if he still believes in miracles, and on page 124 Haydn says are you waiting for a miracle when you really can't even rise an inch off the sidewalk?” Haydn sees the negative, not being able to understand the light of Konwicki's “miracle of understanding” (The Polish Complex 106). Pavel is stuck between these two concepts. He is not, like Konwicki, looking forward to any form of light, but like Haydn he is also not lingering on the negative. [...]
[...] When the characters ask it worth they are not just asking whether it was worth waiting in line, they are also asking whether it was worth waiting at all, if it was worth dreaming the seemingly impossible dream of freedom. The character's want for freedom shows a portion of who they are, gives one an understanding of the characters. This can be seen better in Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light by Ivan Klima but is not invisible in The Polish Complex. Konwicki comes out and says this on page 111 saying, know that our ‘golden freedom' was our undoing . [...]
[...] The President's talk about responsibility in Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light on page 200 becomes interesting when you relate it to Pavel. Pavel is not only escaping from the country and society that pushes him down and doesn't let him is what he wants, but he is also escaping from responsibility. On page 216, Alice tells Pavel, “You've always tried to escape. Do you remember you promised to take me with you to Mexico?” Pavel didn't want to take up the true responsibility of a love life so when he goes to Mexico he leaves Alice behind. [...]
[...] Bertram does a good job of showing what Leonard has become on page 20 where he says, “Your personal life, that vital plank, is- don't be angry- in a mess, you're lacking a fixed point out of which everything inside you would grow and develop- you're losing the strength and perhaps even the will to put your affairs in order- you're erratic –you're letting yourself be tossed about by chance currents, you're sinking deeper and deeper into a void and you can't get a grip on things- you're just waiting for what is going to happen and so you're no longer the self-aware subject of your life, you're turning into its passive object you're obviously at the mercy of great demons but they do not drive you in any direction .your existence seems to have become a cumbersome burden to you and you have really settled for listening helplessly to the passing of time.” Leonard has become an object hinged only at the prospect of waiting for a darkness, embodied by the chaps, to come in and take his life away. [...]
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