"Opposites Attract" is a law of attraction, at least where electromagnetisms are concerned, but are there unwritten laws or boundaries about attraction between two people as well? Michaels illustrates that although opposite magnets are able to attract, in reality two opposite people will have a difficult time coming to a comfortable arrangement. Attraction is built and acted upon the instance the two pairs of eyes meet. What is that feeling that arises from within? It's the same cliché feeling people say makes the entire world tunes out and disappears, which is parallel to the sensation Jakob Beer is exposed to when he meets Alex. As he says, "Meeting Alex at the music library was like a gift of a beautiful bird on the windowsill. She was all legs and arms, gangly and elegant, all bits and piecesâ€¦she was everywhere on my heart, spiky and charged, itchy and there to stay." (pg 130)Jakob is immediately exposed to a warm feeling of sensation. Love comes in so many levels, it's the feeling that has everyone mystified, the feeling that starts and ends many wars, the feeling that has more songs, plays, books and poems written about than anything else. In that instant moment when Jakob and Alex meet the gaze of one another, love becomes the same feeling that completes Jakob's broken heart despite how different Alex and him are. Fugitive Pieces is a novel about the damaged essence, the strength of the human spirit, and the influence of language. Through a single character, the pain and crucial healing power of love and revolting power of attraction is illustrated. Through the character Alex, an ordinary girl from Toronto, Anne Michaels takes the reader through a journey of love where the very thoughts that are meant to be attracting from the perception of protagonist Jakob, end up being the exact reason the relationship between him and Alex shatters. Despite how "spiked", "charged" and "itchy" Jakob's heart felt, his childhood snatched the most significant part of him, his happiness. They say the choices we make in the past and the present reflect the person we turn into in the future. But what if we were never given a choice to make? What if the person we become in the future was structured through an incident that was out of our control? An incident that would leave us scarred for the rest of our lives. Jakob Beer lost his entire family as a child and perhaps the part of him that he left behind as he ran away from the Nazis was found when he met Alex. When he looked at her and once again felt complete for a short amount of time. But the effects of the war are permanent, it is not long before Jakob begins thinking about his younger sister which ultimately brings his relationship to an end, leading Jakob's continuation of life with Alex impossible, and not only illustrating her character as an unpleasant one, but also unsympathetic.
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The written language has an extraordinary power, it can heal. Simple words can patch up any wound. However, sooner or later, words won't be enough to repair a tragic memory. In this stage of Jakob's life, Michaels introduces the reader to a new character, Alex. Through her fun and extravagant nature Alex somehow manages to complete the missing side of Jakob, the one that loosens up on the past which his memories didn't allow him to. Jakob's character constantly dwells on the loss of his sister Bella from the instant moment he ran away from the Nazis up until the present day. The pain that Jakob goes through every living moment is unimaginable; a pain that slowly shatters his character. When Alex comes along ultimately he is mesmerized by her exterior features, it's what attracts him to her right away; however, when Jakob looks beyond her appearance, he comes across the unique person that she is. A person that makes him feel alive from the inside, Jakob says "She was a character in a screwball comedy searching in vain for a serious moment. She spends a lot of energy being modern to the minute â€¦she would leap up and fling her arms around my neck like a child. She bought red shoes and only wore them when it rained because she liked how they looked on the wet pavementâ€¦.When Alex wasn't dancing she was standing on her head" (Pg 132). Fugitive pieces has a very tense atmosphere and with the introduction of Alex's character that atmosphere becomes less uptight. She is a simple, free spirited, modern girl from Toronto who focuses on living life to the fullest rather than drowning in sorrow. With Jakob she is looking to live the love story any person dreams of. Despite what the reader may think, Jakob's relationship with Alexandra is highly significant to his growth as a character, she helps Jakob endure the pain and save him from his inner death. When Jakob and Alex are together, the relationship between the couple is completely balanced; she fills in the social gap while his serious attitude compensates for her amusing one. "Alex lacked confidence in one area. Too proud to reveal her innocence, she flirted to keep men away. I admired her armor of words, learning from her how to endure my own shyness secretly..." (pg 133) Jakob's character has learned a lot from Alex; in the beginning of their relationship she was able to make Jakob avoid thinking about Bella, and also become more outgoing. Through this, she manages to take him away from sinking in his thoughts because he can't seem to find the time when he is so intrigued by Alex's life, appearance and personality. Often times the reader questions what it is about Alex's character that makes Jakob fall in love with her, and it's simply that she fills the missing gaps in his life.
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We are never aware how bittersweet love really is until an unfortunate event in life occurs, the death of a loved one. It is simultaneously mentioned throughout numerous conversations, songs, literature, and allegories that love is the most powerful emotion we know of, thus making it even more difficult when we lose the closest family member or friend. For Jakob Beer it wasn't the thought of death that upset him, it was the thought of not knowing whether or not his sister Bella was dead as he recalls, "I couldn't keep out the soundsâ€¦But worse than those sounds was that I couldn't remember hearing Bella at all. Filled with her silence, I had no choice but to imagine her face." (pg 10) Can Michaels ever fully explain the pain that was eating away Jakob from the inside? Nothing can illustrate how it must feel laying awake at night wondering where your family is and if they are dead; the emotions that are running through Jakob are anticipated by the reader. The memories of Bella are all that Jakob can hold onto and he feels that if he lets any of those detailed memories slip away the presence of Bella will fade away with them. "Athos didn't understand, as I hesitated in the doorway, that I was letting Bella enter ahead of me, making sure she was not left behind..." (Pg 31) For this reason Jakob is constantly reminded of Bella (he can't leave her behind even if she is just imaginary). Jakob feels as if he would be abandoning her for the second time. Anything that Bella ever liked, wore or talked about is freshly replaying itself inside Jakob's mind. Jakob's character concentrates so much on the small exquisite details of Bella that eventually she becomes godlike to him, which reminds him of her anywhere he goes and he begins comparing her to others around him, especially Alex. The constant thoughts of Bella cause serious tension in the relationship between the couple. When Alex tries to help Jakob undergo the pain of losing his sister Jakob begins to feel irritated by her. "She never understands; thinks, certainly, that she's doing me good, returning me to the worldâ€¦ And she is. But each time a memory or a story slinks away, it takes more of me with it."(pg 144) This quote exemplifies how insecure Jakob's character has become without Bella by his side. Gradually, Jakob begins to find life impossible with Alex, her perception of the world is very different from his, something that often irritates Jakob; he believes she can't accept people for who they are, deeming that her main focus in life is to have fun "Whenever we were at Maurice and Irena's, she felt she was missing something, everything, elsewhereâ€¦. My heart dilated with hope that someday Alex would really learn to love us all, as we wereâ€¦" (pg 134) In this passage Jakob is hurt by Alex's insensitive attitude towards his friends and he begins to think that Alex wants to adapt everyone for her benefit. When Jakob first met Alexandra, she in many ways became his new impression of Toronto and the Canadian lifestyle with her light idealistic nature, modern ideas and odd friends. As time goes by, Jakob feels intimidated by Alex's friends as well. This is shown through a few brief paragraphs regarding Marxism. "I didn't have the confidence to argue Canadian politics with her blue-blood Marxist friendsâ€¦ those who shone with certainty and have never had the misfortune of witnessing theory refuted by fact?" (Pg 132) As Jakob observes this new and modern culture without discussing it with others, he feels that the ideas are wrong because of what he has personally witnessed. Jakob also begins to feel violated as he feels that Alex is trying to take his past away from him. Alex could no longer endure Jakob's past she feels that nothing can change his permanently depressed and grim attitude. When Alex's patience finally comes to an end she begins to tell Jakob how she feels and in that short text Michaels illustrates Alex's misinterpretation of Jakob's personality and the gap of understanding between them. "I can't stand this anymoreâ€¦ This is what you want from me, isn't it? Every last speck of me gone will be goneâ€¦You are ungrateful, Jake, that dirty word you hate so muchâ€¦" (pg 148) This shows that Jakob's memories of the war have scarred his personality permanently, illustrating that such crucial pain can never be forgotten, and should never be forgotten. For this reason Jakob eventually finds life impossible with Alex.
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The written and spoken language can blind you, words can notify our mind, soothe our mood, and thrill our spirit. They can also break our hearts, feed us lies, smack our face, shock our nerves, destroy our desire, and tear down our self-confidence .Language can emotionally move us as powerfully as any physical action. Through the character of Alex, Michaels plays a mind trick with her words on every reader. The most important element that the reader often forgets about is that everything we have learnt about Alex's character is from a male's perspective not from Alex herself. Just like Alex misinterpreted Jakob's character, Jakob could have done the same. To fully understand Alex's character, the readers must place themselves in her position. However, if we are to judge Alex's character from what we have been told about her, than it is difficult to avoid calling her an unpleasant character. Alexandra wants to live a life where everyone around her likes everything she does. She states that Jakob can never remember the name of her friends but when she visits his friends she anxiously wants to leave. Her character never once sat down with Jakob and completely comforted him. Alex would rather go out with her friends than stay home to help her husband endure the past. When the two broke up she became very selfish making it seem like her character is shattering into pieces when he is the one who is dying inside. Before Jakob started his relationship he said one thing "I imagined kissing the girl I saw in the library â€¦ She's laying next to me. We're holding each other but then she wants to know why I live with Athos, why I've collected all those articles about the war that are in piles on the carpet, why I stay up half the night examine every face in the photographs. Why I keep to myself, why I don't know how to dance" (pg 110)" in this short passage Michaels foreshadows the entire relationship and why it came to an end, because Alex never fully understood anything.
The death of a loved one leaves people with a profound emptiness, a space in the heart that often times we think will never be refilled. Jakob Beer was never able to get rid of this empty space in his heart when he was in a relationship with Alex (no matter how hard he tried, the wound would always reopen). You can never completely become accustomed to being without your loved one especially when you see the Nazis take them away, knowing they will soon die. Jakob Beer is one of many holocaust survivors who had to deal with this dreadful event. Thousands of others in our world in this instant second are still facing the horror. What happened to Jakob as a child destroyed his childhood, his adulthood, and now his relationship with Alex. The memories like a scar never go away; they haunt you like bad dream replaying over and over again in your mind, and every time Jakob finally wakes up, the wound of the moment he lost his family is once again reopened. Jakob's character felt attracted to Alex, he than felt irritated by her and discovered her to be an unsympathetic person but in the end Jakob's relationship with Alex illustrates the value of love, loss and the importance of family. Alex's character was a significant part of Jakob's life but in the end her love wasn't strong enough to cope with his past and heal help heal his memories.