beginning of movie
beginning of movie
Yolen begins the novel by setting up the basic premise: Hannah finds herself caught between what is old, or in the past, and what is in the present. Hannah equates the ritual customs of her Jewish heritage with a bygone era. She demonstrates no interest in worshipping the past or being forced to pay homage to something to which she herself feels little connection. Yolen draws upon this cultural disconnection to literally transport Hannah to this murky past. Yolen also implies that Hannah is embarrassed by her cultural upbringing. As the novel begins we learn that Hannah has spent the day with a friend of hers, Rosemary, who is not of Jewish heritage. While this point is visited again later in the novel to demonstrate the modernity with which Hannah is familiar, specifically her freedom to pursue friendships with people of any cultural background, it also implies that Hannah is more comfortable around those who do not remind her of her own family. She is caught between cultures, a common characteristic of second- or later-generation immigrants. An adherence to the customs of the past begins to feel like a constraint rather than a proud badge of one's identity.
Additionally, Yolen decides to make Hannah a young teenager rather than an adult woman. This heightens the alienation she feels from her culture as she struggles to assert herself more as a young adult. She is embarrassed by the games played at dinner and feels especially put upon when she is asked to open the door symbolically to let in the prophet Elijah. To her, this is a child's task. This is quickly juxtaposed against her experiences as Chaya in the following chapters. This contrast allows Hannah to fully appreciate just how good and free of fear and turmoil her life has been thus far.