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Name Critical Analysis: The Shawl Published together in 1989, The Shawl is a pair of related stories: a short story The Shawl and a novella Rosa that appeared individually in 1980 and 1983. Similar to the other works of the author, these stories deal with the theme of tension between the Jewish and the non-Jewish culture.The narrative focuses on a woman’s account of how her infant daughter was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp…
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Download file to see previous pages... As the story develops, the reader is compelled to ask several questions. How does Rosa tolerate the sight of her daughter in pain? Why did Rosa think that her daughter would die very soon? What is the significance of “the shawl” in the eyes of the narrator? While attempting to answer these questions, one will learn that Rosa is obsessed with her past. The description of her situation at the start of the story explains why her daughter, Magda, is suffering and why Rosa cannot be of any help to her own child. They are all captives of the concentration camp, cold, exhausted and starved. They live in “a place without pity” where even struggling to acquire the basic necessities can cause them death penalty. Being only fifteen months old, her daughter was not getting the nourishment she needed from her mother. She struggles to suck milk from her mother’s breast but gets nothing in return except the feel of the dry and cracked surface. She eventually takes pleasure in suckling on her mother’s shawl which tastes like cinnamon and almond. ...
In the story, the reader finds several instances where the narrator vividly conveys the unspeakable atrocities that occurred in the concentration camp. The sights and the smells of terror are muddled up together in “the coldness of hell”: Stella, cold, cold, the coldness of hell. How they walked on the roads together, Rosa with Magda curled up between sore breasts, Magda wound up the shawl. Sometimes Stella carried Magda. But she was jealous of Magda. A thin girl of fourteen, too small, with thin breasts of her own, Stella wanted to be wrapped in a shawl, hidden away, asleep, rocked by the march, a baby, a round infant in arms. Stella’s desire for the baby’s shawl leads to Magda’s death. Ozick’s abundant use of symbolism allows the reader to envision the setting. She refers to the baby as angel throughout the novel; "smooth feathers of hair nearly as yellow as the Star sewn into Rosa's coat" and as "someone who is already a floating angel". When her shawl is taken away from her by Stella, Magda suddenly begins to cry and wobbles out into the yard where she is picked up by a guard and thrown on the electrified fence to meet her death. The story reaches its climax through the flat character, Stella, who remains cold and cruel till the end because, being a child herself, she does not recognize the sentiments of the others, except satisfying her own need. Cynthia Ozick uses figurative language masterfully in her work The Shawl. She believes that such language is critical for literature understanding. The story is noteworthy because of its meticulous control over the view point. It requires great attention, as the details appear to be filtered through the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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