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Compaison of two poems - 'Night Over Birkenau' and 'Earrings.'

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Introduction

Compare and contrast: Night over Birkenau and Earrings This essay will be analysing and contrasting two poems relating to the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII and how it diversely affected Jews. The first poem is 'Night over Birkenau,' a first hand experience poem written by Tadeusz Borowski to display the daily lives of Jewish prisoners in concentration camps and 'Earrings,' a second generation poem by Annette Bialik Harchik, written to inform readers how Jewish women were imprisoned whilst exploring aspects such as the racial discrimination by Nazi Germans in the Auschwitz concentration camp. By exploring these aspects it seems that the poems are written to give a voice to the deceased Jews who have died without having the chance to inform the world about the inhumane crimes inflict upon them deceitfully. From the start of 'Night over Birkenau' readers are given a clear insight to the poem's setting, hence the title 'Night over Birkenau.' This gives readers the sense of insecurity as a setting in the night is likely to be more vile. This is then reinforced in, "Again the grim sky closes." 'Grim' gives readers a sense of horror; and 'sky closes' evidently proves that the prisoners are captivated in this horror, it is inescapable. 'Again' reinforces that it is cyclic, constant and never ending within their hearts. The Jews' feeling of horror is initially derived from the horrifying methods used by the Nazi Germans to exterminate them. These were methods such as the crematorium, "and the eyes of the crematorium blaze." The word 'blaze' allows readers to interpret the intensity and aggressiveness of the flame but it is the use of personification in 'eyes' which emphasises the intensity of the heat as the eyes symbolise the shape of an igniting red and blue flame. The personification allows readers to interpret how slow the Nazi Germans have made the length of the termination process, as the eyes represent a quality of live humans. ...read more.

Middle

Harchik uses the word 'leave' to show the that her mother left her possessions with her intention - which reinforces the deceitfulness of the Nazi Germans as they lied and told the Jews that they were only going in for a 'shower,' when, in fact they were to be inhaled with toxic gas. 'Glittering' shows that the jewellery was new and polished - in other words, it was to give an impression. This can be referred historically to the way Jews were deceived into a wrong destination, the total opposite of what they have been told. A destination in which there minds would never dwell on. Alternatively, 'glittering' can suggest the speed at which everything is happening, which is very fast. Whilst the pile of jewellery is 'huge,' it is still 'glittering' to emphasise the activity of women leaving their possessions and never coming back out. Both poems portray the same sense of unity between the Jews making them 'one'. This is shown in a simpler and more effective form in 'Earrings' because the link of unity between the Jewish women was also a link of culture as all the women carried at least earrings. Harchik shows us this by using the world 'pile' in, "in a huge glittering pile of jewelry." 'Pile' suggests the disorganization in the camp - which reinforces the idea how everything in the camp was going at extreme speed. But, it is this 'pile' which suggests the equality that all the Jews had - every person's possessions was mixed in a huge pile with other cheaper or more expensive items. There is a huge range of who's this jewlerry may belong to whether it was a poor or a rich person. All that really mattered was that these people were Jewish. In 'Night over Birkenau,' Borowski displays the aspect of humiliation in a discreet way to emphasises his feelings. ...read more.

Conclusion

The third stanza is the biggest with the factual content of what has happened to her mother, 'my mother was stripped.' Although Harchik bases this on the mother, she does go forward to give the idea on the wider perspective of what has happened to the people on the last line of stanza three, 'in a huge glittering pile of jewelry.' The enjambment used from the last line follow on from 'earrings', the symbol of the people - this is effective use of the enjambment because it links very well to the 'huge glittering pile,' which again evidently shows that a wide number of people were involved. Punctuation in 'Earrings' is less intense than 'Night over Birkenau'. Harchik uses punctuation to separate different thing in the camp in a 'step to step' format, "mother was stripped, shorn, and tattooed." Notice how there is a comma between every step that her mother has to go through, this is effective to the reader as they have to 'pause' between every step. This can also be interpreted to show the sheer humiliation that the camp prisoners had to go through - the pause emphasises that the prisoners had to stand there waiting for the next step to be conducted right in-front of crowds upon crowds of other, humiliated people. Lack of hope is similar between both 'Earrings' and 'Night over Birkenau,' both poems repeat the 'symbol' which is bringing misery or ironically in 'Earrings,' hope. In 'Earrings,' we witness the presence of the word 'earrings' in the first stanza to start the poem and the third stanza where the conflict is being described, once again the 'tabbing' structure between the text and 'earrings' emphasises that there is a lack of hope; which is similarly show in 'Night over Birkenau' but with the text to show the lingering presence of evil.. From studying these poems. I can evidently see that Borowski is a poet who has went through a lot of pain and agony before having the courage to show the world exactly what happened to Jewish prisoners during WW2. ...read more.

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