Symbolism In Cynthia Ozick's 'The Shawl'

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Take a second and imagine, imagine yourself being starved, tortured, and enslaved. What would you do to save your children and yourself? In Cynthia Ozick's story “The Shawl” we meet Rosa and her two daughters Stella, who is fourteen, and Magda an infant who is being concealed, on their grueling march to a concentration camp. The Nazi’s are unaware of Magda’s existence due to Rosa hiding her under the shawl as they are marching. Rosa is faced with the difficulty of keeping her daughters alive, while trying to survive herself. Through the point of view of Rosa, Ozick uses symbolism to capture the many different coping mechanisms used to survive the horrors of being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp and through her selflessness becomes a Christlike heroine. Rosa’s imagination gives positive characteristics to situations and objects to help cope with traumatic events such as, the magical properties of the shawl, the grass outside…show more content…
Stella is resentful and angry. She does not try to escape the reality she is faced with but allows it to negatively affect her attitude towards her sister and her mother. For example Ozick explains “Then Stella took the shawl away and made Magda die. Afterward Stella said: ”I was cold.” And Afterward she was always cold, always. The cold went into her heart: Rosa saw that Stella’s heart was cold.”(300) Through this we see that Rosa has come to realize that in the dire circumstances of their situation Stella has come to really only care for herself not her family unlike Rosa. This is also a good example of where it shows the contrast of Rosa and Stella so much so that Rosa fears that Stella is going to eat Magda. “And Rosa thought how Stella gazed at Magda like a young cannibal.” (299) Showing us that the way we handle our strife in life is dependent upon our perspective. Which helps to show the tremendous difference between Stella and
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