Lebanon and Israel began as vulnerable mandates in the early twentieth century, and grew into two mutually hostile independent states due to disagreements regarding land, national identity, and sovereignty. The main conflict concerned who would own what land and how to gain shared power. There were leaders who hoped to end problems within and between the two states but the efforts usually failed. President Reagan was greatly involved in efforts to create peace between the two states. Lebanon and Israel resorted to fighting which soon evolved into wars between Lebanon and Israel and civil wars within the state during the mid-1900s. All of these events in history led to unstable states that still suffered economically and politically in the twenty-first century.
In contrast to the larger, ongoing struggles between the Lebanese and Israeli peoples, the central characters of Anthony Doerr’s novels experience personal struggles along their journeys toward self-discovery. In About Grace, David Winkler endures a great deal of physical pain in addition to his struggles with homelessness and hunger. When David dreams that his daughter is going to die, he leaves his home out of fear that he will live to see his dream become reality. As a result, he loses connection with his family. David has no other choice but to create a new life for himself and is lucky enough to find a find family along the way to help him to see his life more clearly, and to analyze and understand his dreams. They also make clear him that there is beauty in the world no matter how dire his or anyone’s situation may be. Eventually, this family helps David to reconcile with his loved ones. In this way, David’s story, similar to others in Doerr’s novels, reveals the burden that self-discovery can place upon the individual, but no matter the extent, there is always a way to overcome it all.
Major Works Consulted:
Doerr, Anthony. About Grace. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
“Tweed’s.” Tweeds. N.p., n.d. http://tweedsmag.org/wp content/uploads/2014/05/Doerr.jpeg. (Mar. 29, 2015).
---. All the Light We Cannot See. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Friedman, Thomas. From Beirut to Jerusalem. New York: Grove, 1989.
Gordon, C. David. Republic of Lebanon: A Nation of Jeopardy. New York: Westview, 1983.