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March 17, 2010
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The Sunflower Summary

During the Holocaust, Simon Wiesenthal is put into a concentration camp for being Jewish. Like any other prisoner, he's living day by day, until he is taken to a hospital in a group to clean up trash. On the walk through the town to get to the hospital, Simon shies away from looking at anyone on the street in fear that he'll see someone he knows. He spots a cemetery for Nazi soldiers. Each grave has a single sunflower planted on top of it.

Knowing that he would never get his own sunflower on his grave, Simon thinks to himself. "Suddenly [he] envied the dead soldiers. Each had a sunflower to connect him with the living world, and butterflies to visit his grave. For [Simon] there would be no sunflower. [He] would be buried in a mass grave…" (The Sunflower 14). Wiesenthal realizes that the sunflowers hold some type of symbolism and special meaning to him, but he doesn't know why.

While at the hospital, Simon is called inside by a nurse who leads him to a patient's room. That patient is a dying Nazi named Karl. Simon is stuck there listening to his story about what's he's done to Jews, the people he's killed, and his mother. When he's done telling his story, he asks Simon for forgiveness. Simon backs out of the room without answering, and makes it back to his group without being caught. He couldn't decide whether it was right or not to forgive the Nazi, so he left Karl's plea unanswered.  

The next day, Simon is back at the hospital to do more trash duty. Again, the nurse comes to him and leads him into the hospital, but they don't go into a patient's room this time. The nurse hands him Karl's possessions, but he refuses to take them. Karl had passed during the night. Simon leaves and later asks his friends at the camp what they would have done, but it doesn't ease his conscious.

Eventually, the camp is freed and Simon goes on with his life. One day, he finds himself near Karl's mother's house. He decides to go talk to her, hoping that it will help him come to a decision of whether or not he did the right thing by not answering the Nazi's last dying plea. Unfortunately, it doesn't help him. Karl's mother insists that he was a good boy, and Simon can't bring himself to tell her the things that her son has done in the war. He leaves her house, still without an answer to his moral question. Later in life, Simon brings Nazi soldiers into court to for trials against war crimes.

The story ends with Simon asking the audience what they would have done, and whether or not he made the right choice. Writing this book may have been a way Simon Wiesenthal wished to mollify himself, hoping that the reader would agree with his actions. There is no definite right or wrong decision in this case. Everyone's opinions are different, and religion and philosophy can act on those opinions. If everything's so subjective, how do we decide what's right, and what's wrong?
This was a good, short book. Its about 100 pages, and then there's 54 essays by writers and famous people saying what they would have done in Simon Wiesenthal's (the author) place. Its called The Sunflower.

It makes you question your morals. I thought it was pretty darn spiffy if you ask me :3
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omg anna seriously lol
RetroOutro Apr 16, 2010  Student Digital Artist
The Wiesenthal Memoirs were one of the books that really, really made an impression on me growing up. He's such a talented communicator.
yes, i loved the book but i had to give it back to the school xD even the cover art was great. im glad i read it. ive never heard of him before this
So sad...I might read it sometime, though, it does sound very good.
its not as sad as it seems. its more about morals than war and killing
PhotoGingerness Mar 19, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
sad :(
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