The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

by

Simon Wiesenthal

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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Hans Habe Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Habe views the answer to Simon’s question in this way: humans are not an appeal court from God. God’s punishment struck Karl, and Simon should not acquit someone whom God has punished.
While Simon and other prisoners question God’s presence, Habe argues that Karl’s death is God’s form of punishment, and that Simon should not contradict God’s will.
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Habe believes that murder is unforgiveable, but that one might be able to forgive a murderer after legal punishment had been served. A pardon granted to an unpunished murderer is a form of complicity. It does not foster forgiveness.
Habe stresses the importance of atonement and punishment not only from God but also from fellow human beings before receiving forgiveness.
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Habe states that the true problem of forgiveness is that the principles of love and justice seem mutually exclusive, but really they should complement one another. “God punishes and forgives, in that order,” Habe writes. One thing God never does, however, is hate. Simon’s resistance to hatred is the most important aspect of the story, because life without hatred is the goal.
Habe is one of the few Christian respondents that agrees with Simon’s decision (if obliquely), writing that Simon’s compassion is more essential than the question of forgiveness. Habe argues that God can both punish and forgive, and so some of the other respondents’ focus solely on forgiveness is potentially incomplete.
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