Essay about The Function of the Shawl in Ozick's The Shawl

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The Function of the Shawl in Ozick’s “The Shawl” Suffering becomes a way of life for Magda, Stella and Rosa, as they struggle to survive during the Holocaust. During these trying times, some cling to ideals and dreams, while others find unusual vessels of hope – like the shawl – to perdure in their austere living conditions. Although the shawl becomes a source of conflict between Magda, Stella and Rosa in this narrative, it also serves as a pivotal force and a motivational factor. In Ozick’s “The Shawl”, a small wrap allows its owners to triumph over the adversities of a concentration camp, the “magic shawl” comforts, nourishes, protects and prolongs life. For Magda, the shawl serves as a magical place, a place of…show more content…
Magda hadn’t had the luxury of seeing other camp detainees laugh during her short life, but the shawl, with its ability to sooth, allows Magda to experience ‘happiness’ even if it is just for a short moment. Considering her environmental circumstances, the shawl permits Magda to avoid knowing the pain and suffering that surrounds her. It is only when the comfort of the shawl is stolen by Stella that Magda dies, Magda is seen by a soldier as she is “grieving for the loss of her shawl” (paragraph 14). A young girl of 14, Stella barely holds on to her own life in the concentration camp, she desperately seeks comfort and protection. Like many others, Stella’s deplorable shape reverts her to an infantile state of mind, she constantly wants to be comforted, soothed and cared for. Stella is “jealous of Magda” (paragraph 1) and wants the shawl to herself. Like Magda, she wants “to be wrapped in a shawl” like “a round infant in arms” (paragraph 1). Although she is forbidden to touch the shawl, Stella endlessly longs for it because she is always cold. Rosa believes that the cold has gotten to Stella’s heart. Not caring about the consequences, famished and callous Stella steals Magda’s shawl for warmth. Although she only benefits briefly from the shawl, Stella’s desperate need for comfort results in the death of Magda. Unable to protect and feed her child by
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