Ruth Minsky Sender The Cage Essay Topic

A vivid memoir of a woman who lost her youth and family to the Nazis, told in the first person and present tense. With hurtling immediacy, Sender takes us from herself as a mother trying to explain to her child why she has no grandparents to her own childhood in Lodz. When the Nazis come, old friends turn away, others are torn away, as the Jews are rounded up. She loses a brother to illness, her mother to the roundups; other siblings escape to Russia. She becomes the fierce guardian of her younger brothers. The harsh life in the ghetto is portrayed unsparingly, as are transports to Auschwitz and, later, a labor camp, where she finally loses her brothers. Maintaining her humanity, creating a family out of fellow prisoners, she survives, believing ""as long as there is life there is hope."" This is painful to read, but not depressing. Sender writes clearly and well, even portraying an occasional irony--e.g., when she is taken to a hospital by an SS officer who is furious when she is denied treatment because she is Jewish. What shines through is Sender's courage and strength and that of her family and friends--their love and determination to stay together. Punctuated by her own poetry, Sender tells a story that will be long remembered.

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After Mama is taken away by the Nazis, Riva and her younger brothers cling to their mother's brave words to help them endure life in the Lodz ghetto. Then the family is rounded up, deported to Auschwitz, and separated. Now Riva is alone.

At Auschwitz, and later in the work camps at Mittlesteine and Grafenort, Riva vows to live, and to hope - for Mama, for her brothers, for the millions of other victims of the nightmare of the Holocaust. And through determination and courage, and unexpected small acts of kindness, she does live - to write the unforgettable memoir that is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

This 15 page document is a guided response packet that can be used as discussion in class and assigned at night after chapters are read.

Vocabulary words are given at the top of each chapter. Chapters responses are coupled by twos due to the 48 short chapters in the book. Also included are questions that require the knowledge of symbolism and irony. Definitions are given for these before student attempts answers.

In culmination six essay topics are given. Students are able to pick one and complete a writing piece to end the novel.


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