How do I answer the following:

"Despite it's tragic history, ‘Stasiland’ is a story about heroes and good. Do you agree?"

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1 Answer


"Despite its tragic history, ‘Stasiland’ is a story about heroes and good. Do you agree?"

Examine the question:

How would you characterise Funder’s storyline? Is it the revelation a historical tragedy, or simply the telling of a story that had not been previously told? Is it emotionally heartbreaking? Do we see the events within the story as being uncivilised and dehumanising for those who suffered as victims of the Stasi? If it is a tragedy (be careful to define this in terms of its causes and its consequences for both the victims and the perpetrators), then to what extent can be defined as tragic? Are the tragic events controlled by an ideology or are the just random, or even accidental? Although it seems an obvious question, to whom do these events that Funder describes appear tragic? Is it to Funder herself or is it to you as a reader? Are the stories that Funder elicits and then records emotionally devastating for those who survive? Are the victims’ stories evidence of human tragedy? Which victims’ stories are more tragic than others? Which are less tragic? Are there are victims amongst the perpetrators and do they also have tragic circumstances to reveal?

The use of the word “despite” suggests that there are alternative views about how human beings deal with and survive the excesses of a totalitarian ideology. In accepting that the historical events are “tragic” assumes that human beings become victims and are innocents in an oppressive world where there have no control over their own destiny; where challenging the dictatorial authority will have predictably dire consequences for those who choose to challenge an ideological system that is based on a one-party state.

Is “Stasiland” a feel-good story where the heroes challenge the system and win? Where “good triumphs over evil”? Defining the terms “hero” and “good” will require you to develop an opinion as to the people who best exemplify those qualities within the story. Who is truly heroic and what do we do that makes them classified as such? How does Funder identify with those subjects who appear as morally incorruptible? How does Funder’s own opinion allow the reader to empathise with her victims’ stories?
Or is “Stasiland” a feel-bad story? How does the author characterise the perpetrators? Are they corruptible or are they simply pawns in a larger game? Are they willing participants? Or do they truly believe in socialist ideals, or were simply following orders?

If this is a story just about heroic deeds (which of course it is not entirely) then what contrastive evidence does Funder provide? Who does she single out for their apathy or for their blind devotion to a political system that denies individual freedom? Who does she interview whom she clearly depicts as “evil”?

Structure your essay:

  1. Overview of the storyline in relation to the question - Your contention? Do you agree or disagree? Or is there a compromise view or views?
  2. Focus on “heroes” and “good” – Perhaps three characters or events
  3. Focus on “villains” and “evil” – Perhaps three characters or events
  4. Anna Funder’s Viewpoint?
  5. Reconcile the arguments
  6. Conclusion

Previously answered questions are also worth looking at:


The following are well-worth watching:

You may find that these links will provide you with clues for development:

Hope this helps?

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