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Children literature analysis: The concept of death Essay

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2019


The concept of death is portrayed in most of the children literature in a number of ways. Various literary devices are used to portray the issue of death (Nikki 4). To enable the children understand the issue of death, various aspects are used by the author so as to generate the feeling surrounding the concept of death and to ensure the young people understand the concept of death (Bernard, 2).

In this work, various stories with death as the central theme were analyzed so as to indentify the literal and illustrative elements of these stories (Tara 5). Three stories were analyzed so as to determine the central themes in these stories, identify similarities and differences among these stories (Jay 2).

In the stories provided here. The issues of death are depicted as being surrounded by sadness and uncertainty and anxiety. Most of the victims in these stories are portrayed as being in position where they are surrounded by many uncertainties, hope and extreme sadness.

In these articles, the victims are faced by the issues that leave them hopeless and with many uncertainties. The stories also show a transformation from happiness to grief and extreme sadness (Bessie 2). The writers use many literature devices to elaborate these concepts.

Analysis Of Stories

All stories have several literary elements that are used to portray the message to the audience. Every story has a central theme. This is the main idea or message that is being communicated by the author. The story also has a plot which outlines the events of the story and a point of view which outlines the connection between the author and the story.

There is also the issue of conflict where in the story, there are conflicting issues or opposing forces that seem to outdo each other (Elizabeth 5). Other literary elements include: irony, style, tone, imagery, symbolism and metaphor.

In Hanna’s stories the central theme rotates on the struggle people had to go through during the holocaust. The central theme lies on the great suffering that the Jewish people had to undergo due to the oppressive rule of the Nazi (Karen 34). In the story, the issues of suffering and death flow throughout the story.

At the beginning, we see the Hanna’s mother be taken to concentration camp, and then followed by their dad, then the brother George and finally Hanna’s is also taken to the concentration camp. This depicts how Hanna, a small child, suffers gradual loss of all the family members before she was executed through poisoning (Karen 42).

The story theme also seem sad from the beginning creating a mood of sadness all through the story. Thus, when the children read the story, they get sadness mood which surround the concept of death. The charlottes story has a sad mood at the beginning when the famer purports to kill the weakling pig. Fern urges the famer not to kill the pig when he is in tears creating a mood of sadness when talking about the story.

Conflict is also another theme that is depicted in the story. In the story, we see Hanna’s family as a happy family (Karen 32). All through the story, we see Hanna struggling to become happy in life but the aspects of war keep her sad all the time. We see her mother trying to make her happy by singing lullabies and candling her hair but the following morning she is taken away from her.

Next, her father is taken from her. They live happy with her brother who is also taken away from her. When she thinks he is going to be united with his brother, she is taken to gas chamber for execution (Karen 95). In the charlottes story, the mood of the animals swings from happy mood to a very sad mood.

For example, when Mr Arable goes to slaughter the rout pig, there is sad mood but when Fern is given the pig to rear, the mood changes to a happy mood (White, Williams and Rosemary 3). This shows that when death is looming, there is sadness while when there is hope for life, everybody becomes happy. When the reader’s mood moves from a happy one to a sorrowful one, the impact of death to the reader is magnified.

Imagery is another concept that is widely used by all the writers to depict the concept. Imagery is mainly comprised of aspects such as similes, metaphors and personification (Murray and Rosamund 5). Metaphors are words that are used to show the depth of certain aspects such as grief.

In Hanna’s stories, many metaphors were used to depict the concept of desperateness, extreme grief, sadness and joy along the whole story (Larry 3). Some of the metaphors used are “death was all around them” the “dreaded list”. Another one was when Hanna used to run with “her heart hammering” to the main entrance where the list was posted.

When the name of George Brady appeared in the list “her knees buckled” and “her beloved brother and protector was gone”. All these metaphors are used to show the sadness and uncertainties surrounding the life of Hanna. When Hanna was to go to the east, she said “he’s is waiting for me”.

Very many metaphors are used in the story to create a mood of both happiness and sadness. In the charlottes story, there are also many metaphors that are used to depict sadness, injustice and happiness. At the beginning when Mr. Arable is going to execute the rout pig.

Fern says “it is unfair, the pig couldn’t help being small” this shows that the pig is suffering because of its size yet it dint choose to be small. Fern also says “this is a terrible case of injustice”. When George was told by one of the girls that Hanna had died “George Knees turned into jelly and the world went black

Use of illustrations as a source of imagery is also seen in the stories; in all the stories that were analyzed, it can be seen that images are used to portray different aspects in the story. In Hanna’s story, the pictures of Hanna also used to shows the horror of the concentration camps.

Pictures of the happy family are also used to show the transformation between happiness and sadness. Also, the picture of Hanna’s is shown in the end so that the reader can feel the pain the girl had to undergo during the holocaust. This is important so that the reader understands the sadness surrounding war.

In charlottes story, we see pictures being used to show a young kid trying to stop Mr. Arable from killing a pig. Pictures also show Fern feeding a happy pig which she rescued from death. The pictures also show the rescued pig playing happily with other domestic animals.

Works Cited

Bessie,Chua. Little pioneers. New York: Landmark books. 2005. Print.

Bernard Marie. Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z. Toronto, Canada: university of Toronto press, 1991, Print.

Elwyn White, Garth Williams and Rosemary Wells. Charlotte’s web. London: Harper Collins publishers, 1999, Print.

Elizabeth Kennedy. Top 10 Children’s Picture Books About the Death of a Pet. Web. <>

Jay, Braiman. Literary devices. Web.

Karen Levine. Hanna’s suitcase. London: Albert Whitman & Company. 2003. Print.

Larry Constantine. “Use and Misuse of Metaphor”. Rowley, MA. Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd. Print.

Murray Knowles and Rosamund Moon. Introducing Metaphor. New York, Routeledge publishers. 2006. Print.

Nikki, Gioyanni. Using literary devices to analyze literature. Tennessee: Claude Mckay. Print.

Tara McCarthy. Teaching Literary Elements: Easy Strategies and Activities to Help Kids. London: Harper Collins publishers, 1997, Print.

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