The story presented in the novel “Briar Rose” by Yolen is unusual enough to be regarded as an ordinary book on the horrors of war. In the context of a general story, this novel can be compared with the film “The Language You Cry In” common features are embedded in both these creative works. In particular, Serrano and Toepke represent those characters who fight for freedom and the right to defend their dignity and independence, resisting the policy of oppression and slavery (The Language You Cry in).
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Despite a fairy tale presentation that can be traced in the plot of the novel, Yolen touches on a very serious topic of the Holocaust as one of the most terrible events that have occurred in the whole history of humanity. In one of the dialogs where the characters talk, the phrase “fairy tales always have a happy ending” sounds (Yolen 106). However, the counterargument concerning which of the two sides the narrator is on confirms that there are always victims and winners, and the more significant and desirable the victory is, the more crushing and large-scale the defeat is.
I believe that the fairy tale form of the story is a special technique that allows the author to present the terrible events of the Holocaust in a non-standard light. The importance of being aware of the atrocities that happened during the Great War and their consequences is to be understood by all generations. This manner of narration may be Yolen’s peculiar attempt to draw attention to this tragedy. “My little daughter was buried in the crush” – these words are too horrible to tell them in an ordinary manner, and the form of a fairy tale is probably an attempt to make the story softer despite its horrors (Yolen 210).
The author uses this style, inserting excerpts from the tale “Sleeping Beauty” in an effort to draw an analogy with the well-known plot. I consider that it is due to this approach that the novel is valuable for different people. Various humans and, in particular, young readers may find essential information about what is often hidden from them as the facts that could disrupt the child’s psyche.
The ending of “Briar Rose” is certainly happy since Becca manages to return home (Yolen 235). Gemma is also able to build a happy life, despite the horrors of the war, and it is also evidence that the story is in many ways reminiscent of a fairy tale (Yolen 238). Nevertheless, the plot itself is frightening, but Joseph, one of the characters of the novel, does not consider himself and other heroes.
He argues that a person seeks to survive but not to win respect and glory when he or she falls into terrible living conditions (Yolen 145 ). The very essence of the difference between the concepts of “survivor” and “hero” lies perhaps in the fact that in the first case, a person’s will to live pushes to demonstrate all one’s will. Heroic deeds are committed deliberately, and when the main goal is to preserve life and courage should be regarded as a natural desire for survival. It is probably this important idea that Yolen seeks to convey to readers, emphasizing that the victims of the Holocaust were ordinary people who just wanted to live.
It is essential to study the story of the Holocaust in order to remember what horrors an obsession can cause and what sacrifices a political regime may bring. The value of human life cannot be belittled and used as an instrument of power. In the context of this tragedy, people should understand that the repetition of such horror is unacceptable, and I am sure that such novels as “Briar Rose” are able to convey the full significance of this idea.
The Language You Cry in. Directed by Angel Serrano and Alvaro Toepke, performance by Vertamae Grosvenor, California Newsreel, 1998.
Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. St Martin’s Press, 2002.