Cynthia Ozick was an American short story writer, novelist, essayist, poet, and translator. She considers herself an American Jewish writer. Cynthia Ozick was a writer of fiction and non-fiction, but did not bloom her career until she was 32 years old. Her literary hero was Henry James. After Cynthia Ozick finished graduate school, she would read for hours. She tried to read all the books that she never read before. She tried to learn everything she could from the books that she read. Reading books are what influenced her to become a writer, so she began to read about the history of Jews, which inspired her to write about it. Cynthia Ozick wrote many short stories, novels, and essays about being in concentration camps. One of her famous short stories that had a setting in a concentration camp was The Shawl.
Cynthia Ozick was not an actual witness to the Holocaust, but she did read many books about it. She began reading things that ran from Biblical times and went through the 19th century. When she first wanted to write about the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel asked her not too. Elie Wiesel was another author that wrote books about the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel experienced being in the Holocaust, and therefore was an actual survivor. Elie Wiesel asked Cynthia Ozick to wait a few years until there was no more witnesses to find fault with her representation of the Shoah. The Shoah is also known as Holocaust Day. This is the remembrance of all the Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust. The reason for that was because Cynthia Ozick falsified the event and mocked a sacred text. At all cost, the Shoal had to be secured.
Cynthia Ozick was upset and hurt, not because she was reprimanded for making a minor historical error, but because she was treated as a stranger. Cynthia Ozick was an American Jew, not just an American. She was treated as if she was just an American. She was also treated as if she was an American writer that had no clue what the Holocaust was really about. Cynthia Ozick did know about the Holocaust, she learned about the Holocaust just by reading about it. Cynthia Ozick wrote a letter to Elie Wiesel stating that just because she was not a witness of the Holocaust and part American, she should not be excluded from being part Jewish.
Though inexperienced about the Holocaust, Cynthia Ozick still kept writing. She knew that the people who were held in concentration camps were mistreated and many were killed. Even though the setting and the action of the story that she wrote was swift and terrible, it did not seem like it. Cynthia Ozicks writing would not be explained in details, she would let the reader figure out where the story was taking place. She would use figurative language and similes in order to describe something. For example, in the short story The Shawl, Magda began to cry because she wanted the shawl. When Rosa found the shawl, Magda was high up, elevated, riding someone’s shoulders(Ozick 605). Above the shoulder a helmet glinted.
Below the helmet a black body like a domino and a pair of black boots hurled themselves in the direction of the electrified fence(Ozick 605). This statement would right away show that the body like a domino was one of the Nazis. Without Cynthia mentioning the word Nazi, certain descriptions would let the reader know what Cynthia Ozick was talking about, such as the domino like body. Rosa was Magdas mother and was trying to protect Magda from getting killed. Cynthia Ozick made Rosa use the shawl, as a shield, to rap Magda up so that no one could see Magda. During the time in the concentration camp, the shawl kept Magda very quiet. The shawl showed creativity and conventional symbolism under the most extreme situations.
Cynthia Ozick knew that no matter how much you would try to protect yourself, the Nazis would still come after you. When Rosa had Magda in the shawl, the Nazis still found Magda. Cynthia Ozick used the shawl as if it was a transitional object, and that still did not keep Magda safe. The shawl that was used to try to protect Magda, gives people a suggestion about how strong the humans will to survive is. It also shows the length to which we, as humans, will go to ensure, or at least try to convince ourselves that they have ensure their survival. Cynthia Ozick would give other hints to let the reader know that she was writing about a concentration camp.
For example, Cynthia Ozick would give hints such as, a golden star sewn in their coats, or explaining that the characters were walking with no destination. The golden star was to show that they were Jews and the Jews walking with no destination, was the Nazis taking the Jews to the concentration camps. The Jews did not know where they were going because they were forcefully taken out of their homes by the Nazis and were not told where the Nazis were going.
At the end of the short story The Shawl Magda gets caught and gets killed. Magda did not find the shawl and therefore she began to cry. Since the Nazis were trying to kill off the whole Jewish race the Nazis would not mind even killing the children. The Nazis heard Magda cry, so they found her and threw her against an electrical fence. Cynthia Ozick knew that the Nazis tried to kill the entire Jewish race, starting with the children, so that is why she let the Nazis find Magda and kill her.
Question: How did Cynthia Ozick learn about the concentration camps?
Thesis: Reading books are what influences her to become a writer, so she began to read about the history of Jews, which inspired her to write about it.