Two masterful short stories: one depicts the horrors of the Holocaust, the other the lifetime of emptiness that pursues a ‘survivor’ – by a Pulitzer Prize finalist
The Shawl is considered a modern classic – a masterpiece in two acts. The horror and desolation evoked through piercing imagery – first through the abomination of a Holocaust concentration camp murder, second through the eyes of the murdered child’s mother, thirty years later, now ‘a madwoman and a scavenger’ – offers the reader a chilling insight into the empty suffering of a ‘survivor’.
In ‘The Shawl’, a woman named Rosa Lublin watches a concentration camp guard murder her child, a child barely old enough to walk. The shawl that was the child’s security blanket and lone possession reappears in the second story, ‘Rosa’. Rosa appears thirty years later, living in a Miami hotel and feeling the strain of a lifetime of pain: the hollowness of seeing her baby killed, of managing her harrowing memories she’s being told to forget, and of even now being treated as a specimen and not a human being.
Ozick is one hell of a writer and The Shawl rings like a bell marked Truth.