Louise Murphy’s The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is one of those books that, upon reading the last page, you go, “Huh.” It’s a story about a brother and sister who are on the run from Nazi soldiers and who find themselves under the care of an old woman in the middle of the forest. I finished reading this book months ago, but as I was skimming through my notebook wherein I write down my favorite lines from books and films, a couple of the lines I got from this one in particular struck me so I’ve decided to share them with you.
Now, I have no idea what Louise Murphy’s beliefs are or how she wanted God and religion to be represented in her novel. But I know that many people, when in the midst of unspeakable pain and tragedy, often ask how God – if He does exist, and I believe He does – could allow such terrible things to happen, and I found the most beautiful response to that in one of the pages of this book.
“It didn’t happen fast enough. Half of Poland died before God helped us.”
“God’s time isn’t our time.” Starzec sighed.
“God shouldn’t have let this killing happen. God should have stopped it.”
Starzec gestured at the trees and the forest around them. “Do you see God? Where is he, you fool?”
Doby flushed and shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“God didn’t come down and kill us. I don’t see God shooting children and priests. None of us met God beating up Jews and shoving them into railroad cars. This is men doing the murdering. Talk to men about their evil, kill the evil men, but pray to God. You can’t expect God to come down and do our living for us. We have to do that ourselves.” (p.207)
There are a couple of other lines too that are just as beautiful.
Wasting a little shows you believe in tomorrow. (p.17)
They had leaped into love, and the whole world, the dark trees and the fields, shimmered with bright light. (p.149)
God cannot see the darkness man has created and not throw out light to combat it. (p.175)
Life is sometimes a great waiting. (p.178)
We can never let the world take our memories of love away, and if there are no memories, we must invent love all over again. (p.297)
I’ve always had this unquenchable interest in stories of war and of the Holocaust. For the life of me I can never comprehend how something so evil and inhuman found its way in the history of mankind and be caused by mankind itself. But I find so much hope in the fact that no matter how powerful and destructive such evil was, it still lost in the end. It’s true that there is darkness in this world, but there is also and always light.