Everything Is Illuminated Essay

Discrimination is Alive and Well-Unfortunately “This monument stands in memory of the Trachimbroders…. killed at the hands of German fascism in World War II. This is all that is Left. They destroyed everything. ” This quote came from the film, Everything is Illuminated (2005), directed by Leiv Scheiber which contains various types of discrimination during World War II. Discrimination took place in Alex’s home, when getting directions from the country workers, and at the Trachimbrod.

At The beginning of the film, Alex talks about how his Grandfather started a business for aiding rich Jewish people to search for their dead families after World War II. It is a strange job because Grandfather hates rich Jewish people and their dead families and is discriminatory toward them. Alex’s father asks Grandfather to drive the car for a Jewish American who is searching for a woman in a village called Trachimbrod. Grandfather is refusing to drive, “Go to hell, I am retired, No more dead Jews,” he says. Father states, Alex will be going also to help. Grandfather says he will pick up the Jew and Sammy will go with them (his dog).

When arriving to pick up Jonathan at the train station Alex has mixed emotions upon seeing Jonathan a Jewish American for the first time. Alex claims Jonathan does not look like any of the Americans he has seen in magazines with yellow hair and muscles, also he does not look like any of the Jews he has seen in the history books with no hair and prominent bones. Grandfather tells Alex the Jew can sit in the backseat with the bitch (his dog) is one example of discrimination. While driving to their destination they become lost and stop to ask for directions from some country workers who are digging.

Grandfather is very frustrated Jonathan does not know where they are. Grandfather tells Alex to go and ask the workers for directions to Trachmibrod and to leave the “Jid (Russian for Jew) here (in the car) which is another example of discrimination. Jonathan tells Grandfather and Alex he is not a moron, he knows what that word means, and it is Russian for Jew. Alex gets out of the car to speak to the workers and Jonathan tells him to wait, he is coming with, Alex says he cannot even speak and will be of no help, it is bad enough he (Alex) is from Odessa, Jonathan promises not to speak and goes along.

When speaking to the workers Alex is very brief, he knows he is not welcomed or respected by these men because of where he is from and they feel hostility towards him, he is beneath them (lower class). The workers tell Alex they do not know the place he speaks of and to go back to Kiev, Alex states he is from Odessa. Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. (dog) is growling at the men from the edge of where they are digging. Jonathan then tries to get directions from the men and has Alex offer Marlboro cigarettes to them.

Alex becomes embarrassed and mad; the men are now laughing at him and telling him to get lost. When they walk away Alex is scolding Jonathan for speaking and making him look like a “stupid American tourist”, the dog is still growling at the men, not following Alex. One of the men calls out “hey Odessa you forgot your dog”. Alex calls to Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. , but she does not come to him right away, the workers laugh even louder claiming Alex cannot even get his dog to listen to him, making him even more resentful towards Jonathan.

The Trachimbrod Memorial is a place where Jewish people remember when the Nazi’s came to the village, they lined up the townspeople and commanded each one to point out a Jew or they would be considered Jew. Close to this area is where they find Lista; she is the sister of Augustine, the woman Jonathan searches for. Lista remembers the Nazi’s coming to the village and how her father would not do as he was told even when they threatened the life of his daughter and her baby. She lives alone because she wanted to be safe from the Nazi’s and knew someday someone would come searching.

Grandfather, remembers how he along with other villagers were lined up and shot by the Nazi’s firing squad, how they were all piled together and lye was spread over them to keep down the stench of rotting bodies. When Grandfather regained consciousness, realizing he had survived, he crawled out of the pile and looked around bewildered he was actually alive. Grandfather, at that moment chose to deny his Jewish heritage. He took his coat off with the Star of David on it and threw into the pile, leaving it there as he walked away. This event is another example of discrimination because the people were killed simply because of their race.

After remembering and acknowledging his Jewish heritage, Grandfather feels at peace within himself, finally in control, no longer jealous of those who showed their Jewish heritage freely. Grandfather no longer wanted to live a lie; he took his own life. The family buried Grandfather at the Trachimbrod Memorial this is where he was to die. Grandfather’s Gravestone has the Star of David on it and the words are written in Yiddish (Jewish). As the family is leaving we see they are wearing Yamica’s (Jewish prayer hats). By these actions, we see Alex, his Grandfather and his family have accepted their Jewish heritage.

Grandfather learned he is part of the big picture; the changes he made were no longer needed. He needed to acknowledge the truth about himself and his heritage. Jonathan gets that we are all connected, no matter where we are from, our religion or race, we are all connected. We learned why the discrimination took place in Alex’s home, with the country workers and at Trachimbrod. “This monument stands in memory of the Trachimbroders…. killed at the hands of German fascism in World War II. This is all that is left. They destroyed everything. ”