The Shawl Essay

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In the following excerpt, Gordon analyzes the function of the shawl in Ozick's story in terms of concepts drawn from psychoanalysis.

Cynthia Ozick's "The Shawl" (1980) is a Holo­caust story about a mother struggling heroically but in vain to save her baby in a death camp. Brief and poetically compressed-two thousand words, Just two pages in its original publication in The New Yorker-it has a shattering impact. Ozick manages to avoid the common pitfalls of Holocaust fiction: on the one hand, she does not sentimentalize, but on the other, she does not numb the reader with a succession of horrifying events. She works largely through metaphor, "indirection and concentration" [according to Joseph Lowin, Cynthia Ozick, 1988]. For example, the words "Jew," "Nazi," "concen­tration camp," or even "war" are never mentioned; these would arouse the kind of Immediate, unearned responses Ozick eschews. We do not know...

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This section contains 2,810 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Shawl Study Guide
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The Shawl from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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