The Shawl Imagery

The Shawl Imagery

Thinness of the characters

The author is not very generous on appearance description, but what draws attention the most is meagerness of the characters. Stella’s “knees were tumors on sticks, her elbows chicken bones” give a vivid image of her being very thin. And when Rosa came for Magda’s shawl Stella was “heaped under it, asleep in her thin bones”. Lack of food and lack of human attitude have done their jobs.

And even Magda who was “only fifteen months old” could not stand “because the spindles of her legs could not hold up her fat belly, which was fat with air”. Even though the author does not describe in details the appearance of the heroes, this is enough to comprehend all the wretchedness of their state.


Portrayal of the barracks where Jewish had to live gives quite an image of its deplorableness: “excrement, thick turd-braids, and the slow stinking maroon waterfall that slunk down from the upper bunks, the stink mixed with a bitter fatty floating smoke that greased Rosa’s skin”. And it is a place where people had to live, to sleep, and to eat that miserable food they were provided with. This must have been even worse place than prisons.

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