In many of his novels, Romain Gary depicts modes of survival during WWII. Yet survival is not restricted to times of war: in times of peace too, one must use whatever means at one’s disposal in order to survive life’s many challenges. Humor, cynicism, madness, revenge, benevolence, murder, as well as marriage, child bearing, and writing are presented as plausible mechanisms of survival. The common denominator for these methods can be termed “bricolage”: an imperfect yet possible reliance on random components, as well as on hope and imagination, to make existence liveable.
Underlying the survival inventory deployed by Gary, are inescapable moral issues. None of us are exempt, and our collective consciousness forces us to realize that each of us is responsible for every kind of manifestation of human behavior. Particularly problematic is the relationship between morality and the human craving for perfection. One of the means to reach perfection is, presumably, art, made with all materials of life, the unpalatable along with the beautiful. For Gary, as long as one keeps in mind that artistic perfection is no more attainable than ridding oneself of one’s collective imperfections, the artist’s work and imagination are endowed with moral agency.