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Jakob the Liar


Jakobthe Liar

Jakobthe Liar

Thenovel “’ by JurekBecker told the story of Jews in Germany, during the holocaust. Thenovel focused on the hopes of Jews in living a better life and therole of Jakob, who kept the hopes of the Jews high by telling lies.The novel traced the life of Jakob from the first lie he told and thedifficulties he had in keeping up with the lies (Berek,1996).Jakob had to keep telling his Jewish community lies so that he couldkeep their hope high. This discussion shall discuss the theme of liesand illusion in the novel by Jurek Becker.

Jakobfirst told a lie to his friend Mischa when he lied that he had aradio. The Jewish community was not allowed to own radios. Jakob hadheard about the approach of Russians when he was held in the policestation by a policeman who was playing a practical joke on him(Sveta,2012).However, Jakob realized that although he was telling the truth abouthearing the news on the radio, no one would believe him when he saidhe had left the police station (Berek,1996).He thus had to tell a lie about owning a radio so that Mischa wouldbelieve him. Mischa, being excited about the news, told others aboutthe arrival of Russians and also told them that she got the news fromJakob. Jakob became an instant hero in the neighborhood and peoplecame to him for more news. Jakob told more lies to satisfy hiscommunity.

Jakobalso lied to Lina, who was looking for his radio so that she couldlisten to the news. Lina wanted some hope and that is why she waslooking for the radio (Becker&amp Hornfield, 1975).Jakob decided to give her hope by pretending to be a radio in ahidden location. Jakob told the story of a princess and a cloud(Berek,1996).The story of the cloud created an illusion of hope for a princess whoneeded a cloud to get healed. The cloud was in the form of cottonwool, which represented illusion in the story. Jakob combined liesand illusions to give hope to Lina who needed hope at that time asthe Jews were facing many difficulties.

Thetheme of illusion was also evident with the way the community came toJakob for news always as the community loved to listen to his storiesof hope and peace (Becker&amp Hornfield, 1975).The community was disillusioned and ignored its suffering andchanging circumstances because of Jakob’s stories (Sveta,2012).The community was illusioned as it believed that the state would stoppersecuting it, because of Jakob’s stories. The community was soillusional that the people kept coming to Jakob for more news. Jakobthus, had to keep telling creative lies so as to satisfy thecommunity,

Mischaalso lied to Jakob that he would not tell people that he was thesource of the news about the coming of the Russians. Jakob did notwant to get attention from the news and he, therefore, wanted Mischanot to mention him when spreading the news. Mischa promised not totell anyone that he got the news from Jakob (Berek,1996).However, when spreading the news, he told people that Jakob was thesource of the news and that he had heard the news from his hiddenradio. The people then started coming to Jakob for more news (Roskies&amp Levene, 2001).

Jakobtold more lies when he lied to the community that his radio hadbroken down and he could no longer provide news. Jakob grew tired oftelling lies and having to be creative with lies and he had to createanother lie in order to support the previous lie (Roskies&amp Levene, 2001).Despite lying that his radio was spoilt, the people kept coming tohim for news. Others even befriended him so that he could give themnews. Jakob eventually told Kowalsky the truth so that he would stopbothering him (Berek,1996).

Kowalskyeventually killed himself when he realized that the community wasliving on illusions created by Jakob’s stories (Becker&amp Hornfield, 1975).Jakob had created an illusion of peace and better days to comethrough his stories, which he claimed he heard through his radio(Berek,1996).The community believed his stories because it looked forward tobetter days and thus, Jakob’s stories gave them hope. Jakob triedto improve the morale of his people by telling them stories that keptthe illusion of a better life, alive. The stories revolved aboutbeing rescued and a better life for the Jews in the ghettos. Theillusion gave people hope, which gave them morale.

Inconclusion, the story ‘Jakob the liar’ is based on Jewishconcentration camps during World War II. The story was about Jakob, aman who had to tell lies to the Jewish community in his concentrationcamp so as to keep their hope of a better day alive. Jakob created anillusion of good news and he has to keep telling lies to the peopleso as to keep their hope alive. The major lies told were that heowned a radio and that his radio broke down. He had to tell lies aspeople kept coming to him for news as they believed that he owned aradio.


Berek,J. (1996). Jakobthe Liar. NewYork: ArcadePublishing.

Sveta.(2012). “Svetlana’s Reads and Reviews” Blogger.UnitedStates: Blogger.

Becker,J and Kornfeld, M. (trans.). (1975). Jacobthe Liar.New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Roskies,D. D., &amp Levene, M. (January 01, 2001). REVIEWS – Against theApocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture. TheJournal of Jewish Studies, 52, 1,194.