MichelakosENG4UJanuary 17, 2018Testing A Persons’ CharacterWhen a person lives through a traumatic event they have two main choices. They can continue on in fear, pain and struggle for the remainder of their life. Or they can find a way to cope and deal with their unfortunate situation.
Between 1933 to 1945 six million Jews died during the holocaust. 6 million lives of innocent women, men and children. The ones that were not captured and taken to concentration camps had to live their lives in hiding and solitude. The few so called “lucky” ones who escaped and survived the holocaust have to go on everyday with forever lasting traumatic memories. All of this occurred because one person believed that Jews did not deserve to live. Although discrimination still exists today, society is more accepting of everyone and openly embraces people for who they are.
In Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosay and the Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank, both novels illustrate the hardships these young girls are exposed to during this time and how their difficult situations affect them. For example, the impact that one person has on these girls brings out a positive outcome for Anne, consecutively, for Sarah it leaves her with emotional trauma that she will never get over. Moreover, the yellow star serves as a symbol of discrimination to both Anne and Sarah, exposing them to a life of prejudice, that makes it hard for them to accept their identity. Furthermore, choosing to be strong in the face of adversity plays a huge role in both Anne and Sarah’s lives, this mentality impacts the decisions they make and how they move forward in these terrifying events. In both novels, each girl is impacted by someone/something that affects them emotionally and leaves them with a different outlook on the situation they are in.
To begin, there is one person that affects each of these girls, positively for Anne but negatively for Sarah. Firstly, Anne is struggling to adapt to the close living quarters. She is going through a stage in her life where she is learning what it is like to be a woman and more about herself. Anne begins a friendship and gains a source of knowledge in Peter van Daan, writing “Whenever I go upstairs now I keep on hoping that I shall see ‘him’. Because my life now has an object, and I have something to look forward to, everything has become more pleasant” (Frank 146).
Throughout this entire time living in the attic, Anne cannot find anything that truly cheers her up and bring her out of her depression. However, Peter manages to be the one to comfort her in this time of struggle, making her look at the situation she is in with a more positive attitude now that she has something to look forward to at the end of the day. Whereas, in Sarah’s Key, Sarah’s mission throughout the novel is to return back to her apartment and save Michael. She feels horrible for leaving him behind and is completely crushed when she finally gets back to Paris and finds her brother dead in the cupboard. She is truly never able to overcome this, exclaiming in jee notebook, “My brother.
He died in the cupboard. There is nothing left for me. I thought there was but I was wrong” (Rosnay 261).
Michael is the one that gives Sarah the strength to escape the concentration camp. He is the only hope she has left to one day go back to her old life, so when she finds him dead, all of that aspiration and fortitude goes away, leaving her empty. Even as she tries to start a new life, nothing helps her recover from the pain she feels. Michael affects her ability to be truly joyful about anything, as he was the only source of happiness she had left. Comparatively, both girls have been impacted by another person within their life, leaving them with a new outlook on their circumstances and affecting their emotional state. Conversely, the contrast between the two is that Anne is impacted in a positive way, finding comfort in her friendship with Peter, whereas Sarah is left with a negative impact after discovering her dead brother. This ultimately affects her outlook on life and her standpoint towards it, and eventually leads her to make the ultimate choice to take her own life. In essence, the impacts on each girl differ, exemplifying that in horrific circumstances the role of one person can either make the situation easier to deal with or it can add to the pain and suffering that they already feel.
Anne and Sarah both have to endure the consequences the yellow star brings, that causes them to live differently and question their identity. Firstly, with a yellow star sewn onto all of her clothes Anne realizes that everything is going to be different. Shortly after, she sees how cruelly the Jews are being treated and how she is going to have to live her life. She can choose either to be ashamed about being Jewish or be confident in her own identity, but have to deal with those who discriminate against her. She voices this opinion by writing “We can never be just Dutch or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. (Frank 235). Anne is coming to the understanding that her identity will always be confusing to her, she will never truly be assured in who she is, knowing that there is now a stigma around Jews and she will have to live her life around that. This yellow star leads to the loneliness and isolation that Anne feels, she is confused on how to identify and this impacts her ability to grow as a person.
Likewise, Sarah experiences identical feelings of discrimination and isolation from this star. She learns that because of this symbol, she will have to deal with a lot more prejudice. The first time she becomes aware of this is when “her mother had sewn the stars on all her clothes…
And then, there had been all the things they were suddenly no longer allowed to do” (Rosnay 25). Sarah is a young child who has her whole life ahead of her, but the yellow star limits her opportunities and symbolizes her exclusion and the injustices she faces. Sarah is impacted by this anti-Semitic act by possessing this feeling of solitude, which makes it hard for her to accept who she is due to the traumatizing experiences she has to handle because of her religion.
Anne and Sarah are both directly affected by Hitler’s orders to differentiate the Jews from everyone else by making them wear a yellow star. Both girls question who they are and who they want to be ultimately because of this discrimination. This injustice forces both girls to be more cautious about the situation they are living in.
In summary, this similarity between the two girls signifies how severe these rules are and the impact they have on the Jewish and their ability to identify confidently as Jews. When faced with adversity Anne and Sarah both choose to be strong, ultimately impacting their choices and how they decide to live their lives during these horrific times. In the first place, Anne comprehends that the end of the war is far away, she knows that there is not a high chance that she will be able to leave this apartment soon, and the fear of being found increases everyday. Nonetheless, she continues to write passionately in her diary, explaining the events of her day and her feelings towards the situation she is in, when she writes in her diary “she can shake off everything if she writes; her sorrows disappear her courage is reborn” (Frank 197). Anne chooses to be tough, and to not let the fears of what the future holds get to her.
The strength that she possesses in this life threatening situation impacts her ability to keep moving forward, to think about what she is going to do after the war, after she escapes. Without the courage that she gains from writing, she would not be able to keep living. Her depression could have caused her to eventually give up, but instead she decides to have a more optimistic outlook on her situation. Similarly, Sarah has gone through multiple traumatic events in a short period of time, however, strength helps her overcome these hardships and leads her to a more promising future.
Sarah watches as children are getting beaten and harassed when the policemen try to shave their heads. When it is her turn “she forces herself not to cry. Never cry in front of these men, Never cry. Ever” (Rosnay 81).
Sarah has to witness the horrendous events that is taking place in front of her eyes, knowing that it is going to happen to her also. She can scream or cry, but instead she remains strong and does not give the policemen the satisfaction of seeing her struggle. This courage ultimately affects the decisions she makes later on and how she chooses to keep on living, even after all the terrible experiences she goes through. Both Anne and Sarah are thrown into disturbing situations, leaving each of them scared and unsure of what the future will hold. But their capacity to be strong despite the circumstances reveals that no matter how hard something may seem there is always the option to continue living and to continue being hopeful for what is to come afterwards.
In short, both of these books show the positive impact courage and strength has on a person. Both Anne and Sarah are left with emotional impacts as well as a different view on their current situations being affected by someone/something. For instance, one person brings out a more optimistic side in Anne, whereas for Sarah she cannot overcome the pain she feels from the impact of someone in her life. Additionally, the yellow star causes prejudice to both girls, creating injustices for them and making it hard for them to accept their religion. Also, when Anne and Sarah are thrust into horrific situations, they turn to strength to help them get through these hardships. Sarah and Anne went through very different experiences during the holocaust but still managed to share qualities and morals that connect them.
They both decided to keep hope and be strong through their situation and reveal their character as a human being. Although Sarah may be a fictional character and Anne was very much real, their stories intertwine in a way that illustrates just how much the impact of someone/something can affect you in a time of difficulty. Works CitedFrank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. New York: Doubleday, 1967. Print.Rosnay, Tatiana de.
Sarah’s Key. New York: St. Martins Griffins, 2007.