Jakob the Liar


Jakobthe Liar

Jakobthe Liar

Thispaper presents a description and an analysis of the narrator and themethods of telling the story of Jakob, the Liar by Jurek Becker.

Descriptionand analysis of the narrator

JurekBecker was born in 1937 in Poland. Jurek Becker spent much of hisearly life in Lodz ghetto and concentration camps. Before his death,Becker lived in East Berlin where he concentrated on writing fortelevision and film. The first novel he wrote, Jakob, the Liar, wasoriginally a screenplay. Because the film failed to materialize,Becker chose to rewrite the story as a novel. It was in this formthat the story made an achievement in succeeding internationally.After the completion of National service, Becker began the study ofphilosophy which he never completed after facing expulsion as aresult of expressing non-conformist views. It was in the 1960’swhen he began his career in writing and was privileged to write filmscripts during that time. Among these films was the famous Jakob theLiar, which was later, turned into a novel after the halting of thefilming process. He continued publishing novels and short stories, aswell as writing for television and film up to the time of his death.

Themethod of telling the narration Jakob, the Liar by Jurek Becker

Forthe people who value literature as a result of its uniqueness in theexpression of the written works, it is quite evident that any filmwork basing on literary works does not compare favorably with theoriginal version of the story. This result from the inevitable lossemanating from compression of the plot, reduction of the number ofcharacters, change of the narrative’s emphases, and elimination ofthe reflection of the story. The method of the narration of Jakob,the Liar by Jurek Becker, suffers most of these limitations as aresult of filming. For instance, the diversion from the mainstoryline with the loss of the best traits of the novel is evident.

Acritical feature of any story, most importantly, lies in theimportance of the narrator. The way of presenting the story is a partof the literary resistance the narration faces. The fact that thenarrator is a Holocaust survivor, his live revolves around the factssurrounding his past life. The narrator is bereaved of his family,and, as a result, susceptible to angry eruptions. The narrator isequally at the center of unhealthy curiosity. The combination ofthese factors drives the narrator to have the desire to narrate asatisfying story as opposed to telling a narration under the guidanceof facts. Ideally, the aim of the narrative is the change hisposition and that of the story beyond the justification of theHolocaust. It is clear that the material resistance on the happeningsof the Holocaust is almost impossible, but the strength of continuedinfluence is inevitable.

Thenarrator of the Becker’s Jakob, the Liar, allowed for theco-existence of multiple versions of the events in the story creatingan ambiguity between the facts and fiction and thus a resistance ofthe notion of a Holocaust. This ambiguity is also evident in the factthat the narration of the film has two different endings. The deathof Jakob during his attempt to escape the ghetto is a fictitiousending while Kowalsky hanging himself after Jakob’s confessionabout the radio is the factual end (Becker &amp Vennewitz, 1996).Besides, the narration of the story makes use of ironyand understatement to result in a strong theme of bitterness with atouch of cheerfulness and wisdom. The narration has a rating ofsomething between aggressiveness and angry to bring out Jakob’s lieas an act of integrity and honorable person with ingenuity as theonly weapon against anti-life’s powers. The narrator also providesa hint of human victory over the Holocaust.

Thenarration made use of humorous characters with a seemingly lightinfusion as opposed to darkness. From the narration, the bestdescription of the reader would be an outsider rather than aninsider. The reader has a formed opinion on the events of the ending,and the events are not mysterious in any manner. Although there arevarious characters in the novel, the main ones evident in thenarration of the film are only Jakob and the adopted daughter. Jakobis just a simple guy who gets through each day at a time but somehowsomewhere, he ends up being a celebrated hero through giving hope tothe Jews he lived with at the time. Other characters in the narrationcan only be viewed as misfits such as the character who had no cluethat he was a Jew.

Themethod of the narration is a mixture of both the first person and thethird person narrative. The narrator seemingly knows it all, onlyimplying that he understood and could tell the thoughts of everyperson. The narration comes out as one which makes an effort infighting against the time while at the same time it appears to rushforward to make an inevitable conclusion. The novel lacks chapters,and it is most of the times confusing. At the same time, thecharacters appear to be confusing to the reader. Ideally, it isworthwhile to read, but it does not offer a complete set up of fulldarkness as expected of a Holocaust narration.

Itis unfortunate that despite Juker Becker’s version of Jakob theLiar being considered the superior film adaptation of the narration,it ends up deleting the narrative nature identifiable with this move.The version upholds the ambiguity of the narrative and as a result,it captures the fundamental spirit of the novel more effectively. Thefact that the narration maintains the ambiguity of the double endingremains at par with the central theme of the novel. This implies thatthe nature of literary imagination to alleviate the power ofdestruction alongside Holocaust to the survivors and those whoperpetuate it as well as empathizers.

Readingthrough the narration, it is hard to identify the core theme of thenarrative. The reader struggles with the identity of the theme amongthe various evident themes such as the fact that death is inevitable,despair versus hope, and identifying which idea is better and betterstill, living with the hope that change will happen and happen forthe better.


Readingthe narration of for a Holocaust class was seeminglyan unusual read. To begin with, the narration lacks chapters andappears to be humorous rather than grimness. Besides this, the readerhas to go through the narration to identify the darkness that thecharacters have to survive through, which should have been evidentfrom the start. The humor of the narration is not clearly evident,and either way, the narration requires grimness.


Becker,J. &amp Vennewitz, L. (1996). Jacobthe Liar. NewYork: Arcade Pub