Briar Rose - Using Story as a Metaphor

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Briar Rose Essay The novel Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is a quest narrative in which Yolen attempts to explore and convey the events of the Holocaust on the Polish and Jewish people. Yolen presents the character of Becca, a young journalist, on a mission to unlock the mystery of her grandmothers past. Through the alternating chapters that traverse between Becca’s present day quest and flashbacks of her past, Yolen appropriates the story of sleeping beauty into this story. Yolen uses form and structure to outline and illuminate the atrocities of the Holocaust and the everlasting torture faced by the world today as a result. The novel opens with two purposefully placed epigraphs. These epigraphs encourage the reader to read allegorically and inform them immediately that there is more to this story than a traditional fairy tale “what seems to be an untruth is really a hidden truth”. The opening chapter shows Becca as a young girl with her older sisters and Gemma telling them the story of Briar Rose. The next chapter then alternates the present, grown up Becca going with her sisters to visit the now, elderly sick Gemma. These alternating chapters and flashbacks provide small links and clues to events and information that Becca is unlocking in her current day quest. This not only connects her childhood to her present life, but also informs the reader that Gemma’s version of Briar Rose has always held unnoticed clues that suggest there is more to this story than being a simple fairytale. Gemma passes away early in the novel with Becca at her side. On her death bed, Gemma makes Becca promise to find “the castle in the sleepy woods” repeating the sentence “I am Briar Rose”. Becca is given the task of finding out the history of her grandmother in order to find out who she really was. Here it is clear that Yolen uses form such as alternating chapters and epigraphs to cement

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