Symbolism and major themes

Examples of symbolism in Milkweed are angels and milkweed pods. In The Horn Book Magazine Peter D. noted that “[the] angel statue and [the] milkweed plant that somehow grows in the ghetto,” were a few of the novel’s motifs.[29] Likewise, Suzanne Manczuk explained “Two things come to symbolize hope . . . statues of angels . . . and the unlovely but enduring milkweed pods.” [30]

Milkweed addresses the themes of survival, caring for others, and existence itself. Anna Rich wrote “Misha . . . survives the Warsaw ghetto, where hangings, beatings, and murders are daily occurrences”.[31] In The Houston Chronicle Marvin Hoffman described how “Misha contributes a portion of the meager booty from his forays under the wall to the ‘outside’-sometimes no more than a single potato-to Dr. K’s [Korczak’s] children.” This is an example of Misha caring for others. In The Bookseller, Wendy Cooling said the novel was “about people, about caring and about life itself”.[32]

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