What has caught my attention the most at the moment about Appelfeld’s Until the Dawn’s Light is the way the story begins. As Miranda Burgess said in the lecture, the first chapter starts on a train and brings to mind the trains heading to concentration camps. Immediately the story seems to be about the holocaust even though it is set before the holocaust, and this theme and feeling of the approaching holocaust is constant throughout the whole novel with details as simple as having a character named Adolf. Appelfeld takes the terrible power and emotions of the holocaust and applies it in a context so similar to the holocaust that even though it’s indirect, it’s impossible not to notice it.
The other fascinating aspect of the beginning of the story is its style and presentation. Although it is consistently nonlinear and all the chapters are short, it is most jarring in the first few chapters. Details leak in small bits through short flashbacks and fragments of dialogue, and a great sense of foreshadowing is immediately created through Appelfeld’s precise control of the readers’ knowledge and understanding of the story, and this technique is most effective during the exposition of the narrative. The reader always has a hint of what is to come because of what precedes it, just like how we know the holocaust is coming given the setting of the story and the antisemitism in it.