Briar Rose Essay
To understand the universality of human nature we can explore common traits and characteristics, many of which are prevalent in Jane Yolen's novel, Briar Rose. Yolen produces a very powerful and complex novel exploring the emotional aftermath of the Holocaust. Yolen has intertwined the facts of the Holocaust with the story of Briar Rose, a traditional fairy tale, in order to speak about the Holocaust without having to go into the historical detail of the experience. Yolen whose background is Jewish has previously written a novel detailing the Holocaust, uses Briar Rose as an extension of her work. Significant aspects of human nature that Yolen focuses on include the courage and heroism of the character Josef as he expresses the power of survival, the ability of Gemma to cope with her history and memories from the Holocaust and the journey of Becca to unravel the truth of her grandmothers past and therefore her identity.
Yolen seeks in Briar Rose to explore the universal human nature of courage and strength by an individual through testing times. The character of Josef is introduced not only to help Becca learn more about Gemma's story, but as a reflection of the power an individual can have to show courage in a traumatic time. In Josef's case he demonstrated courage in rescuing Gemma as a selfless act and surviving the experience of the Holocaust. Yolen conveys Josef's courage and strength also in his ability to befriend Becca. The use of a dual narrative heightens Josef's sense of courage drawing from the fairy tale motif of the 'Knight'. This characterisation of Josef continues, in the brutal face of the Holocaust as "he was not afraid, he had no fear left" demonstrating Josef's sense of strength and will power in the face of death to survive. Josef's humble sense of character is explored when he expresses his views on heroism and courage "we were all heroes of the moment" further emphasising that he believed it was just basic human...
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