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The Exception, by Christian Jungersen

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 Outline:

Beginning:

The paper starts by giving a brief statement of the author, Christian Jungersen as well as his other works. It goes ahead to mention the main characters around whom the plot revolves.

The Body:

This is a deep look into the plot and how the characters work hand in hand to bring out the author’s main theme, which is evil in society.

The psychology of evil:

This is a discussion of how evil plays out in human life. The guiding content is the material in Christian Jungersen’s the Exception.

The Exception, by Christian Jungersen: A Review

The exception is a book written by Christian Jungersen; a Danish writer who has also written a book entitled Thickets.Jungersen picks four women and one man working at the same place as his characters and builds up his story around them.

The book opens with a narration of traumatic experiences that Iben, a hard working young lady, went through together with other members of her team while they were hostages. The struggles of life in the third world are part of this setting as the author shows us how Iben and Malene try to lead a sensible life in Nairobi, the capital city of Kneya.Iben,Malene,Camilla,Anne-Lise and Paul are all workers at the respectable Danish Center for Genocide Information, an organization that tracks and stores information regarding genocides at home and abroad.Iben, who is a close friend of Malene holds the position of information officer,Malene is the project manager, Camilla is secretary to Paul, the boss of the center. The center is funded by the Danish government through the ministry of foreign affairs and they seem to be doing their work pretty well as the novel starts. They have information regarding the atrocities that have been committed by man on fellow man throughout human history. There is information about the deaths in the Sudan, the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of close to one million people (Jungersen 11), the genocide in Bosnia that took so many lives (Jungersen 19) as well as the suffering of Jews during the reign of terror in Germany whereby concentration camps were employed in the systematic killing of Jews. They also have information concerning a number of brutal individuals who have made a mark by subjecting fellow humans to great eveil.An example is Barzan Azis,a dentist who kills Kurds.

Things however take a new turn as the disturbances in the personal lives of the four women become an issue and start creating problems at their workplace. This is worsened by death threats that are sent to them by an unknown person. At first they seem to be directing their suspicion at the brutal criminals whose profiles they have been keeping and writing about from time to time. After Iben gets her threat, she thinks of a number of possible people who may be out to kill her due to her coverage of their whereabouts.Barzan Azis, the dentist who kills Kurds is a possibility as well as Romulus Tokay, a former member of the Romanian secret police, who has a particularly scary history given that at age eighteen, he killed his teacher while in an orphanage. George Bokan, the sniper trainer is also a possible candidate. Not knowing the origin of the threats makes them search around the office and there is almost a consensus that Anne- Lise, the lonely librarian who does not socialize well with the rest of the group is behind the threats. Especially for Malene and Iben, it is almost a conviction that she is the one who is behind this kind of behavior.

The working environment in the office becomes tense as everyone privately and openly tries to make survival moves. Iben is disturbed by the fact that her life seems to be moving without sufficient interaction with men. This is not the same with Malene who is a darling to men and gets more than enough attention from men who are as old as the forty –something Gunnar Nielsen. This therefore creates a wedge, though not openly manifested, between Malene and Iben. As the search for answers to some of the difficult questions in the office continues, the world is moving forward and more evil is committed, of course not by animals, but by man on fellow men. And the biggest question that Christian seems to be posing to his readers is the same question the four women as well as other characters are struggling to come to terms with. This question is: How is man able to do such bad things on fellow men? It is a question these chcracters, the employees of the center keep on asking themselves as they go about their duties.

The degeneration that occurs in the office in terms of relationships and general interaction does not allow for sober assessment of the problem at hand. It simply makes them focus on trying to find the suspect and all of them are looking on the inside. There is witch hunt and everyone suspects someone within the office to be behind the death threats. What was once perceived as a serene working atmosphere becomes a haven for backstabbing hungry monsters who cannot hesitate to devour each other at the slightest opportunity. Attention shifts to some level and focus is on the inside of the office instead of gathering information on genocides, which is their work.

Anne-Lise is the recipient of the vitriol directed at her by her workmates who are of the opinion that she is the one behind the threats.Jungersen is able to show us how those that do not share what we do can be victims of false accusations when we get to problems. For the simple reason of her not being able to interact with them just like they are able to interact with each other, they feel that she is unhappy with being left out, which is partially true, and therefore is out to revenge on them by sending them death threats.Paul, the office boss does nothing much to help since he gets little of what is going on in the private lives of the four women and this is especially true at the beginning of the book.

The Exception, through the characters of Iben, Malene and their older friend Camilla presents the readers with a challenging question.Thier colleague at the workplace, Anne-Lise, is relatively reserved and is not openly angry at them for excluding her from their office gossip. She seems to be determined to hold to herself whatever she is feeling and works as best as she can. On the outside of the office, is a huge collection of bad people, who have not only the compelling motive but also the enabling potential to not just threaten but also hurt these women. But still they go ahead and single out someone so close to them and turn her into the subject of their hate and mistreatment. What makes them do this kind of thing, given their long involvement with information pertaining to crime in general and genocide in particular? In order to respond to this, we must listen to the overtones made by Christian Jungersen concerning the psychology of evil.

The psychology of evil:

The psychology of evil as talked about by Jungersen is a complex issue that is elusive to comprehend. All he does, and in an excellent manner is to use his characters,Malene,Iben,Camilla,Anne-Lisa,Paul among others to show us how evil works in our systems.

Evil comes in numerous dimensions as far as the Exception is concerned. There is the biggest form that the book deals with and it is the immediate concern of the center. This is genocide. It has taken place in Rwanda (Jungersen 11) where so many have lost their lives; it has taken place in Bosnia (Jungersen 19) and Sudan too. There is of course the Holocaust (Jungersen15), the signature crime that sent shockwaves around the world and nearly wiped a people from the face of the earth. Then there are other levels of evil that come in the form of Barzan Azis, the dentist –turned killer and Romulus Tokay who is cruel in dealing with fellow men.

The biggest point that comes up is that the people who have documented al this information have the potential of displaying evil at nearly the same level. Iben and Malene have their dark sides and each is trying to look for areas to shine and when out-played by the other, there is silent envy.They, like the other monsters who have perpetrated genocides direct their suspicion and anger at Anne-Lise without proof of whether she is behind what she is being accused of. The selfishness,malice,backstabbing,envy and jealousy that is in humanity is, to some level a push to look for means of survival in a competitive world. It is also disclosed in the book that sometimes as we look around at the evils being done by others and point fingers, we go ahead forget and end up doing more evil ourselves. Look at how Paul is in charge of a c enter that is collecting crucial information that is supposed to assist in alleviating the evil of genocide and then contrast this with his opportunistic appetite for media publicity. Is this not a bit too selfish?

Evil is with us in society and sometimes looking at ourselves will make us understand how it works and how best to deal with it. It is often possible to go about our daily lives believing that all we are doing is clean and the next door neighbor who is a robber is the ultimate embodiment of evil but a careful look at our actions and thoughts will take us to a different conclusion. It is evident that all humanity is also capable of doing eveil.It takes a conscious effort at personal level to steer our minds away from the vice. Christian manages to bring out this understanding of the nature and psychology of evil largely due to the characters he creates and the roles he gives them.

The Exception is a wonderful read with a big message to whoever wants to understand how evil works in our lives. It is a good way to assist us review our lives in relation to evil.

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