Danny December 2017 The Gadget Evaluation Vasily

Danny Schneider  Mr. Olson IS Paper  21 December 2017   The Gadget Evaluation    Vasily Grossman once wrote, “Why do people have memories? It would be easier to die – anything to stop remembering”. This is how many people fighting in the war felt because of the horrific things they saw during combat. While the things they did and saw were terrible, the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb had similar feelings of regret and guilt after learning about what they were making and its capabilities. The scientists just thought they were going to be saving lives in the war and did not think about the life altering consequences of the bomb. In The Gadget, written by Paul Zindel, he tells a story about the tensions, anxieties and stressful feelings around the creation of the atomic bomb by world renowned scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico.    The Gadget is centralized around the creation of the atomic bomb and the feelings of the scientists and their families as they raced to finish the bomb to defeat Germany and Japan in WWII. The atomic bomb is known as the “Gadget” to the scientists working on it. Scientists are worried about what the Gadget can do to cities and countries, but the only reason they want to finish the Gadget is to protect their families. If the scientists working in Los Alamos finish the Gadget first before Germany finishes their bomb, the odds of their survival in this war is much greater. Dr. Orr, who is one of the lead scientist, had his son Stephen come to live with him in Los Alamos. Stephen came to live with his father because there was a bombing in London where he was living. His wife and the rest of her family refused to leave London during the German bomb raids. The timing move could not have come at a worse time due to the stress which was starting to get to the scientists who were trying to finish the Gadget before Germany finished theirs.  Stephen, who is thirteen, is a very curious kid and he knows that his dad is working on something very important.  He had never seen his dad like this before.  Stephen thought he looked like a man with fear in his eyes and someone who had not slept in days.  Stephen is angry at his father because he was expecting to spend more time with him and he was wanting his dad to pay more attention to him and show him love and affection. But, his father was busy day and night with the other scientists secretly working on the bomb in Los Alamos which was a very secure base surrounded by a high fence and guard dogs.    When Stephen finds out that the “Gadget” that they were making would kill a lot of people, he calls his dad a murderer. Stephen says that he will kill a lot of innocent people and his father replies with, “We were all told we could help the war end. That’s why we came here. All we knew in the beginning was that we would save a lot of lives. None of us really thought it through. How could we? We didn’t know if we could even make such a bomb. We didn’t think how it might be used. We didn’t think what it would be like when it was taken out of our hands. Many of us don’t like what’s happening-“(Zindel 149).  It is obvious that Dr. Orr is frustrated with himself for not seeing what he was doing earlier and ashamed of himself for doing it.  He also feels like he has let Stephen down because he has not lived up to the standards of what Stephen wants him to be.  Dr. Orr cannot find the right words to talk to his son since he has been working on the atomic bomb each night usually late into the evening.  It has taken a lot out of him and he is feeling the weight of this enormous project.  Another instance earlier in the book, is when Stephen asks what is so important about this project and his father responds with, “All I can tell you is that it’s a race, Stephen. If we win it before Hitler, if we complete our project here before the Germans or the Japanese do anything like it, we’ll win the war. If we don’t- it’s the end of our world as we know it”(Zindel 30). This is where all of the anxiety and stress really comes from because if they do not complete the atomic bomb before Japan and Germany their lives and their family’s lives would be at great risk. With loved ones wanting to spend quality family time together and the scientists not be able to provide that much wanted and needed togetherness, it just adds to the building tension and high stress which affects everyone.            The Gadget Theme  In the book, The Gadget, it does a great job of merging historical events into the plot of the story.  It incorporates the important dates of building the atomic bomb in Los Alamos throughout the storyline as Stephen is desperately trying to figure out the secret of what the scientists are building.  The plot is interesting and at times suspenseful as Stephen and his friend Alexei keep getting into all sorts of trouble trying to discover what his dad is working on.  Stephen keeps a journal which accurately portrays the events that occurred during the war.  I thought that was a very captivating way of displaying the events that were happening during the war while staying true to the plot. The setting in Los Alamos is historically accurate, along with the dates of the building of the bombs, and also with the testing site of the bomb.   I really like how the book includes all the historical facts of the war because it makes the story more interesting and believable.  I do not think the history distracted from the theme of the book at all, in fact, I think it enhanced it tremendously.  The theme of the tension and anxiousness that was surrounding the building of the atomic bomb was played out throughout the storyline.  Stephen’s father was so busy and stressed out while working night and day on the creation of the bomb that Stephen was often left alone to fend for himself. I thought how they incorporated the timeline of events into the plot of the story was really clever because these events do not overshadow the plot of the book. This novel did a great job of introducing an interesting plot surrounding the creation of the atomic bomb while also staying historically accurate.   Another historical book that I have read is The Help. I think The Help does a better job of creating an interesting plot, but does not focus as much on historical information as the Gadget does. Part of this is because The Gadget really revolves around the deadline of the creation of the atomic bomb which makes the inclusion of historical information easier. Not that The Help does not have historical information, but it focuses more the lives of these maids rather than give a complete historical timeline of what is happening during this period. Both of these books did a good job of displaying what the tensions were like for the main characters during their respective times periods. Another way that the two books were similar was how they got the point across. In The Gadget the point was how war also affected the scientists who worked on the bomb and in The Help it was what black maids had to go through during this racially divided era. I thought both books effectively got their points across.  The Help focused on the story of the black maids and how they interacted with their white upper-class families.  I thought The Gadget was more effective in conveying its themes and ideas because it stayed true to the historical information while also making a compelling story out of it. The Gadget really gets the theme of all the stress and anxiety that was happening with the creation of the atomic bomb, while in The Help, the telling of the story of black maids injustices during this time period was not historically accurate.  An upper class, elitist white woman becoming friends with a black maid in this time period does not prove to be historically accurate.  Both books were effective in conveying the themes and ideas for me.  The Gadget was more succinct in its theme.  In The Help, it was portraying what the racial climate was like in that era which is a large period of time which they do a great job with it.  The Gadget was done in a very defined period which was WWII.  I think overall that The Gadget did a better job with staying true to historical events while providing an interesting plot.                         Timeline     June 6, 1944: D-Day Normandy coast of France invaded from the English channel by the allies under Eisenhower.    July 20, 1944: Plot by a group of high military and civil German officials to kill Adolf Hitler. This plan fails and Hitler survives. March 9, 1945: Allied forces wage massive firebomb attack on Tokyo.   April 12, 1945: Franklin D Roosevelt dies in office.  Harry S Truman then becomes President.  April 25, 1945: Truman is informed that in four months the U.S will have a bomb that can destroy an entire city; he agrees the project is necessary. April 30, 1945: Hitler commits suicide in Berlin.    May 7, 1945: Germany Surrenders. The war in Europe is over.   June, 1945: Truman agrees bomb should be used against Japan as soon as possible with no warning.     Three Parallel Events  One parallel event that occurred was the London bombing in 1944 which was called the Last Blitz.  This relates to the novel because it was the main reason that caused Stephen to move away from his mother and the rest of his relatives in London, England.  The happening that occurred in the story was that Stephen was on the rooftop of his building in London with his cousin when he “grabbed the binoculars and looked through them.  It could be our planes R.A.F. coming back from a raid.  There was distant flash of light and the high arc of antiaircraft fire.  No.  It’s Luftwaffe.  German planes. They’re bombing”(Zindel 5). This occurrence enriched the story because it caused Stephen to move to Los Alamos, New Mexico to be with his father for safety reasons. It helped place the main character in the town where the scientists were making the atomic bomb.  Another parallel event that occurred was the death of President Roosevelt in 1945. This relates back to the novel because the scientists working on the atomic bomb did not know if they would continue the project or not because there would be a change in power. This was portrayed in the novel when the head of the project, Oppenheimer, said right after the death of Roosevelt, “Our President had been our guide, our Commander-in-Chief, and in an old and truest sense-our leader. We ask for the strength to remember that man is a creature whose substance was faith. … We do not know if our project will continue. We all must feel less certain that our efforts will come to a good end. …”(Zindel 96). This part enriched the storyline because it detailed the mood that everyone on the base was feeling at the time which was sadness and mourning over the death President Roosevelt.   The last parallel event that happened was the death of Adolf Hitler in 1945. This relates back to the novel because while the rest of the country was celebrating in the streets because Germany would surrender, the scientists working in Los Alamos knew that Japan would not give up so they had to stay on task with finishing the bomb. As someone who did not know the war would continue, Stephen celebrated by saying, “Adolf Hitler has committed suicide. Hitler is Dead! He’s Dead!”(Zindel 105). This illustrates his excitement with Hitler’s death as he thinks the war will be over. But after this happens all the scientists are all still in the lab working hard because they know they have to secure finishing the bomb so that Japan would be defeated. This part enriches the storyline because it gives us insight about the select few who knew that the war was not over.          Works cited  Stockett, Kathryn. The help. Berkley, 2016.   Zindel, Paul. The gadget. 2003.