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Hailey Sauerwalt

Ms. Mann

English II

9 October 2017

Human Study: Love is Fear

It is a common belief that love is the absence of fear; however, in truth, love and terror

exist simultaneously. Love is not an emotion alienated from fear but rather an emotion that

inspires fear and society should accept this unity.

In the relationship between parent and child, it can be seen that with unconditional love

comes the fear of physical and mental strife. The movie Life is Beautiful emphasizes this as the

audience can see one of the main characters, Guido, sacrifice everything to take care of his son,

Joshua. The entirety of the time the duo spent in the concentration camp, Guido is trying to

protect Joshua, and subsequently protect himself from the horror of Joshua being hurt. This can

be seen after all the Jewish children in the camp had been executed. Guido, being afraid of his

son being taken away and killed without his knowledge, convinced Joshua to stay in hiding

during the day. Later on in the movie, Guido risks execution to teach all the German children

how to say “thank you” in Italian so his son will not have to face the potentially severe

consequences for speaking during the clear order to be silent, and speaking in a language that

alludes to his foreign upbringing (Benigni). Through these actions, it is visible that the possibility

of pain coming to their children can spark fear in a parent that could lead them to risking even

their life to protect their children.

Conversely, it is possible for a child to be equally or more so scared for the wellbeing of

parent. In the book Night, this terror can be observed in Elie’s feeling of responsibility over his
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father. When life at the concentration camp became more taxing on his weakening father, Elie

refused to leave his side and would take care of him in any way a fifteen-year-old at a

concentration camp could: “For a ration of bread I was able to exchange cots to be next to my

father. When the doctor arrived in the afternoon, I went to tell him that my father was very ill”

(Weisel 108). When Elie learns that those who were sick were allowed to stay in the infirmary

“the old, familiar fear” (Weisel 104) of losing his father drives Elie to pretend to be ill just to

remain alongside his father. Elie’s actions represent the deep-rooted childhood fear of losing a

parent, as well as the unimaginable pain of leaving them behind.

Furthermore, when people open ts to love one another, they alse embrace the fear of

being hurt by the people they love. In an interview on surviving a bus accident of outside of

London Waterloo Station, in 2005, Erika and Robert Sauerwalt detail their fears and struggles

while recovering, Erika saying “I read the accident report on the plane to London. From what I

read, it sounded like [Robert] died. I nearly broke down on the plane, I couldn’t imagine my

husband of ten years simply just being gone” (Sauerwalt). When asked what the worst part of the

whole experience was, Robert answered, “You would think it’d be losing the ability to turn my

wrists, or losing the ability to play my favorite sport [golf], but the worst part was waking up at

three A.M. from another nightmare only to find I was alone. Again” (Sauerwalt), In Life is

Beautiful, the idea of possibly losing his wife, leads Guido to cover as a woman and chase the

leaving convoys with the hope of finding her, an action that would ultimately cost his life

(Benigni). The life choices of these two couples exemplify how giving your heart to someone

makes one more vulnerable to fear not only of suffering coming to you or your loved one, but

also of inflicting irreparable pain on one another.

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In conclusion, love is in correspondence with fear. When a heart is open to love,

irrespective of whether it is to one’s self, one’s family, or another individual, it is made more

susceptible to increased fear. Though this connection can’t be broken, the consequences of

loving will not always outweigh the benefits and society should be accepting of the relationship

between fear and love.

Works Cited

Benigni, Roberto. Life is Beautiful. Ceceni Gori Group, 1997.

Sauerwalt, Erika. Personal Interview. 1 October 2017.

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Sauerwalt, Robert. Personal Interview. 1 October 2017.

Wiesel, Elie. Night. Translated by Marion Wiesel, Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus

and Giroux, 2006.