The Shawl is considered a modern classic - a masterpiece in two acts. The horror and desolation evoked through piercing imagery - first through the abomination of a Holocaust concentration camp murder, second through the eyes of the murdered child's mother, thirty years later, now 'a madwoman and a scavenger' - offers the reader a chilling ...
The Shawl is considered a modern classic - a masterpiece in two acts. The horror and desolation evoked through piercing imagery - first through the abomination of a Holocaust concentration camp murder, second through the eyes of the murdered child's mother, thirty years later, now 'a madwoman and a scavenger' - offers the reader a chilling insight into the empty suffering of a 'survivor'. In 'The Shawl', a woman named Rosa Lublin watches a concentration camp guard murder her child, a child barely old enough to walk. The shawl that was the child's security blanket and lone possession reappears in the second story, 'Rosa'. Rosa appears thirty years later, living in a Miami hotel and feeling the strain of a lifetime of pain: the hollowness of seeing her baby killed, of managing her harrowing memories she's being told to forget, and of even now being treated as a specimen and not a human being.
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"The Shawl," by Cynthia Ozick, is one of the most celebrated imaginative works to emerge from the Holocaust experience. Written in a hallucinatory, concentrated prose, the story is told from the fevered perspective of a mother, Rosa, who along with her teenaged daughter Stella and the infant Magda hidden in a shawl, are being sent to a concentration camp, malnourished and cold. At times Ozick's imagery reminds one of Marc Chagall's paintings: Rosa is "a floating angel," while Magda's eyes are "horribly alive, like blue tigers." Elsewhere the narrator only alludes to the Nazi horror as in the crematoriums' "ash-stippled wind." The story's themes are survival and death, the dehumanization of deprivation and starvation, but also the muteness and voicelessness and primal instincts of the internees, the impossible choices posed by an intolerable condition.
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