The Shawl Essay

This essay has a total of 2168 words and 8 pages.


The Shawl





The Shawl
The plot of this story does not adhere to the conventional plot line. I feel that the
Shawl’s plot came to early. Magda dies to early in the novel. I would have wanted
her to be living just a little while longer so that we can build some sort of relationship
with her. In my opinion, all we know of this fifteen-month-old baby is what Rosa tells of
her daughter. Magda never lives long enough to see life through the eye of the reader.
This takes away from a conventional plot line. Even though the book leads us up to the
point of her death, the rest of the story is pretty much boring and it takes away from the
reader’s attention.

In developing the characters throughout the story we begin with Magda. She is the youngest
of them all and she is the first to die as well. She continues to be talked about by
Stella and Rosa throughout the story. Magda ends up to be a very important part of
Rosa’s life before and after her death. Stella was a selfish and jealous girl who
did not like Magda because she thought that she got all the attention from Rosa. Stella
then gets angry with Magda and steals the Shawl. I believe she has come a long way in life
compared to the way she was as a teenager growing up. She has gone on with her life as she
has since been to college and she is a more mature person. She even returned the Shawl
back to Magda’s mother. Now Rosa is a mother who has lost a daughter to a brutal
death. She also has smashed up her own store due to what she calls an evil world. She is
convinced that she has nothing else to do with her life now that it is destroyed. She goes
on to meet Simon Persky and he tries to comfort her and even asked her out on a date. Her
panties are stolen and she tries hard to find her panties than she does finding the Shawl.
I believe Rosa was in a state of depression because of the loss of her child and her
store. She has little understanding of the Polish language and she tries to run away from
life’s triumphs instead of facing up to him.

I feel that my judgment changes with Stella as the story progresses. She starts off in the
beginning of the story as a negative person who feels neglected as a teenager. She
doesn’t like Magda for the mere fact that she is a child. She talks negative and I
feel that she did not like Rosa for shutting her out of her life when Magda was born. Then
all of a sudden, she makes this attitude adjustment throughout the story by writing to
Rosa in a positive seeing how she is doing and giving her advise her life as a person. She
also mails back the Shawl to her aunt that really changes the outcome of the story. Stella
was not talked about during most of the story after she had stolen the Shawl and Rosa had
no idea where it was. I was thinking Stella would have to come back into the picture
sooner or later. After the letter she sent to Rosa telling her she was fine and that she
needs to move on with her life, it appeared that Stella has learned to accept life as it
was given to her. She tried giving advise to her aunt, but to no prevail.

The author of this book has enabled me to sympathize with Rosa. In the beginning of the
book they were in the concentration camp where she was trying to protect Magda from death
and being seen. She also was trying to keep the family together while in the camp as far
as not letting anyone recognize Magda and making sure Stella is okay. Magda dies and Rosa
gives up on herself and her life as a woman. I feel sorry for her because I felt as though
Rosa was a complete person. Someone that will feel the hardship and pain of Magda’s
death and go on with her life after so much advise from Stella and Simon Persky to do so.
She never took their advice and now she is by herself. Persky came into her life and tried
to give her hope and turn her life around, but she never took advantage of that. She does
things only when she has to. Her laundry needed to be done, but she does only when there
isn’t any other choice. It seems to me that she never gave anyone a chance to change
her life around. She was always complaining about how life is and how bad she had it
coming up as a kid. When someone comes into her life for relief and hope, she turned it
down.

The purpose of the minor characters is to represent attitudes. First, Stella realizes that
she no one pays attention to her. She becomes jealous of her cousin. She steals the Shawl
and Magda dies. Rosa, not knowing that Stella has the Shawl, is terrified of Magda’s
death. Stella moves to New York and moves on with her life. Persky comes in the picture
while Rosa is doing her laundry. As a matter, he was not there to do his laundry, only to
read the newspaper. They converse for a while and end up having tea before departing. They
meet again at Rosa’s house for tea again, but Rosa’s sudden attitude for the
Shawl lead Persky to leave and come back the next day. Then there is Magda. Her child of
fifteen months struggling to hold on to her life dies. She was a good child. She was
hungry and in desperate need of milk that dried up from Rosa’s breast. Her Shawl was
stolen by her cousin and she was notice by the soldiers and thrown against the fence to be
electrocuted. The attitude that Rosa had was an attitude against her and life.

This historical contexts help provide us with the idea of a sudden change in our society.
Being a Holocaust survival as were Rosa and Stella, they both went there separate ways.
One moving to Miami and the other to New York gives me the interpretation of the past and
present. Being in a concentration camp only to read that Rosa came to Miami leads me the
question of what happened before they moved to Miami. The novel has Stella and Rosa living
in a normal society and we never know what they do for a living. It leads me to believe
that the novel only expresses the concept of events and it does not fill you in on why.
The ended of the novel left me unknown to how Rosa will end up as a woman. Will she
continue to live a life of sorrow and hold on to the Shawl as a symbol of Magda? Or, will
Rosa change her life and go out with Persky and live in a life of the present and not of
the past?

I do not think the same ideas would be expressed if it had a different setting. The
settings of this novel say that Rosa went from one way of living to another. How can one
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