The Shawl Essay, Research Paper
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 learn to adapt in such environments. This setting was in Miami. A place of high humidity and a great deal of sun that touchdown in Florida the majority of the year. If one were saying in Boston, then the setting would change. No more burning hands or fingers from the sun. No more lying on the beaches. Who is to say what month it is in this novel? Rosa was in Florida, but around what month and day? There is no season in this state except hurricane season. I believe Miami was a good setting for this novel because it brings out the point of the beaches where gays lye around surrounded by barbed wire and people drinking tea.
The time, place and atmosphere does relate to the theme only because there were two different settings. Stella being in New York and Rosa being in Miami brings about two different atmospheres. One being a cold place where Stella is more situated and stable in her life and she goes on to make something out of herself. On the other hand, we have Rosa, who lives in Miami. Humid places where we can walk on beaches and be free and see a great deal of different things. Yet and still Rosa seems to be confused and she cannot make up mind as to what she wants in life. The time seems to be a good time because there was a great deal going on in Rosa’s life with her daughter death and it seemed the right time that the novel place Rosa’s setting in Miami since Florida was considered to be a getaway place for retirees.
This story is told from Rosa’s point of view. She starts off by feeling sad for the death of her daughter and then moves to Florida only to have her lived as her own Warsaw as it was in the past. If it were told from my point of view, things would change because I would have had Rosa own up to her life and struggles she went through with Stella and the death of Magda. In my point of view, I would have Rosa accept the date from Persky and have her life change from being down and out to going out there into the world and having some fun. Magda would still be alive so she can see her daughter grow up and be someone and make her mom proud of her. Stella would be in New York on a temporary basis and then she moves to Florida to be with Magda and Rosa.
I do not feel the narrator is reliable because there is a great deal of unfinished business left open. There is no life for Magda because she died too early and I feel that the reasons behind Rosa’s action in this novel were unrealistic. Think about Stella and how she stole the Shawl and then she moves to New York to go on with her life and she writes Rosa a letter to try a convince Rosa to change her life. Why didn’t Rosa accept Stella’s idea? The narrator appears to self-deluded to be trusted only because they can change the attitude of Stella, but not Rosa. Rosa is the main character of the novel and I have yet to see her change throughout the entire novel. The reader can benefit from this only to say that there are people in this world who need help or are convinced that whatever they do in life will not help them bring back a loved one and that is not always the answer.
The point of the book is to look at life as a whole and learn to deal with obstacles that may come across one another each and everyday. The author tells us that people can learn to live with what they have or don’t have or change their lives to make It better for themselves. In my opinion, Stella changed her life completely and she did things that I feel she felt sorry for. She knew she had the Shawl and Rosa did not know it. To make things better for her, she returned the Shawl not only because she stole it, but also because it was the right thing to do after all these years. I totally agree with the author’s theme about this novel brings about truth and things people live with in our environment. It certainly makes a statement of someone being down and out. People today struggle in their lives and strive to do better either for himself or for his family. Rosa lived a life she wanted to live because she wanted to. She had a chose to make and she has to learn to live with it. Life is all about choices and we have to learn to accept the choice we make and live with the outcome. Stella chose live a better life than Rosa, but Stella also tried to convince Rosa that life has to go on and she must accept Magda’s death and go on with her life. Rosa was still devastated by her daughter’s death and the destruction of her own store. Rosa has to get over that and live her life. I feel that if you experience anything in life whether it’s good or bad, try to learn from it and move on with your life to make better decisions.