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Change is Viable

Posted on February 19, 2018

The newest set of chapters in Waiting for the Barbarians set off a strange set of emotions for me in terms of what to feel on behalf of the Magistrate. Beginning with contempt in the beginning of the book, I was determined to see this man through almost no change during the entire reading. However, if that were the case then I suppose it wouldn’t make for a very good read. The imagination put into the slow humanization of the Magistrate is almost heartbreaking to watch. In some sick sort of way, I almost wish he hadn’t found his morality. Mainly because you’ve been with this character since the beginning and you’ve watched him grow from a stubborn brute to an actual caring human being. However, the trouble stems in watching him find his humanity as the rest of the world falls around him. Some would call it justice, but for the brief moments in which he actually releases the extent of human deprivation he is somebody who has learned a very valuable lesson in life. I genuinely felt like the character growth for the briefest of seconds outweighed all the wrongs he did. That may very well be an unpopular opinion, but it’s what I felt.

I will say however finally seeing him be tortured is really putting things full circle. It’s a moral I related back to one of my favorite films “American History X” in which the main character also has his past catch up and pays the consequences for his actions. What I do find valuable is the sheer growth the Magistrate exhibits, it was a hopeful feeling to see somebody who was presumably so hopeless to show signs of change. It goes to show the reader that change is viable in any scenario in the world. It simply needs to be taken.

These last two chapters I accepted as a major example as to what truly can be achieved in terms of growth of a human being. The last few weeks back at college I’ll admit to it quite hectic trying to get back into the flow of things. Changing habits and rituals may not seem to be so grand in the eyes of others but for me, it’s the most important thing I want to change right now.

Reading it in a fictional character who seemed so far from ever changing his ways may not seem like the most impactful thing about this chapter, but to me it stood out the most. Gives me hope. Hope that change is imminent.


  1. Jessica Hautsch

    I agree that these chapters (especially chapter four for me) marks a shift in the magistrate’s character. I think that we do see his character change. After everything he is force to endure, how can it not? Interesting connection to “American History X.” As for how much the magistrate is going to change… we’ll have to wait until next week when we finish the novel.

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