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: Primo Levi Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Levi believes that Simon’s actions were right because they were the “lesser evil;” for Simon, forgiving Karl would have meant lying, or inflicting a “moral violence” upon himself. Forgiving Karl would have meant releasing him from the terror of punishment, but for Simon, it would have been meaningless.
Like Kushner and others, Levi (who is also a Holocaust survivor) believes that Simon’s own well-being should be prioritized over Karl’s. He agrees with Simon’s friends that forgiving Karl would have made Simon feel even guiltier.
Themes
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Levi adds that, had Karl not been on his deathbed, he would not have repented until much later. It was also exploitative, as he was using Simon as a tool to unload his anguish onto someone who had already experienced so much suffering.
Levi also argues that Karl continues to cause Simon suffering by recounting how he had committed a terrible crime and by causing Simon guilt in initiating this moral dilemma.
Themes
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon