Hope is a virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, which is difficult but not impossible to attain with confidence. With hope, spirits are lifted, hearts are refreshed and optimism is reborn. So is the story of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland trying to survive the horrors of the German atrocities surrounding them; incredibly surviving while facing illness, starvation, and the fear of death and deportation, and barely struggling to find a reason to live. Eager to combat and unable to ignore the devastating depression within the ghetto, Jakob the Liar by Jurek Becker tells the tale of Jakob Heym who puts himself at danger by suggesting that he owns a radio, forbidden inside the ghetto. Fabricating news of German defeats, Jakob strives to keep hope and humor alive among the Jews held in the ghetto. And so the question may be asked, how can this little fib cause the inhabitants of the ghetto to resist death and endure so much distress?.
"I have a radio!" exclaims Jakob to his friend, "The Russians are within twelve miles of Bezanika!" (20). And so begins the lies of Jakob, who discloses this to his friend Mischa, who is at the verge of risking his life in an attempt to steal potatoes from a freight car nearby. Soon these untruths, told primarily to prevent Mischa from jeopardizing his life, spread all over the ghetto and a sudden hope unfolds rapidly throughout. People begin to think of their futures, as does Mischa, who is swept away by a surge of hope and optimism, and thus asks for his girlfriend's hand in marriage and starts to plan out the rest of their lives together. The impact of the news is unquestionable, for it is stated that since the news of the radio and the Russian advances, there is not a single report of a suicide within the ghetto, which were common and plentiful before the disclosure of the alleged radio. When, however, Jakob reveals to his closest friend, Kowalski, that his radio is no more than a lie told to keep faith and hope alive in the ghetto, Kowalski resorts to suicide because he is forced to realize that his liberation may not be as soon as suggested and that the struggle to survive will be far too great without some hope.