Dogs and the Holocaust Assignment

Dogs and the Holocaust Assignment Words: 1917

Dogs and the Holocaust It is said that dog is man’s best friend. For decades dogs have served as a human companion used for hunting and guarding. They are also aides for people with disabilities to improve their health-related quality of life. More recently, dogs are even being used in psychological recovery programs. Dogs can help bring about comfort and decrease loneliness. “Medical research has shown that contact with dogs can decrease feelings of anxiety and stress. This evidence relates to the following Holocaust literature: Mishaps: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years, Mass, and A Scrap of Time.

What all of these novels have in common is that they feature the presence of a dog. Authors feel the need to insert dogs into this literature because the Holocaust is so devastating that these qualities can’t be found in people. They are used as symbols to counteract the hardships the characters face along their journey during the Holocaust time period. The appearance of dogs in Holocaust literature is significant as they are used for companionship and serve as protection and provide loyalty. Mishaps is about a Jewish girl who walked across Europe by herself urine World War II and spent months living in the forest.

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It is the story off defenseless child who travels great distances and faces many hardships that no other young girl could ever survive. Mishaps escapes from her foster family home and wanders off to find her real parents. It is not realistic for a girl of her age to survive alone in the woods during World War II because she has no food, clothes, weapons, or direction. After enduring many struggles, she comes across a friendly pack of wolves. This is unusual in that wolves generally don’t provide comfort for humans and they usually attack them. This unique pack of wolves adopted Mishaps as a new member of their family.

She learned how to be a part of the pack as a young wolf that ate and howled with them among other habits. The author incorporated the wolves because Mishaps had no other companions. She had a bad relationship with her foster parents and escaped in order to search for her biological parents whom she never found. Her Journey was very lonely, and there is no way that she would have survived without the aid of this extraordinary family of wolves. The wolves, also considered dogs, would prey on other animals in the wilderness so that Mishaps had DOD to eat.

Prior to meeting the wolves, she was forced to steal food from people’s homes or beg strangers for a sliver of bread. Mishaps relationship with the wolves is significant because she found qualities in them that she did not find in human companionship. She genuinely considered them to be her family. Evidence of how strongly connected Mishaps felt with the wolves can be found in the quote, “Seeing the strong family ties between members of the pack, I felt not only deep sadness for my own shattered family but also gratitude for the chance to be a member of theirs,” (Defense, 158).

At this point in the novel, Mishaps met a new family of wolves in the woods after disconnecting from the original pack she met after escaping. The way she described her encounters were very similar to how somebody acts around a wolves. She did not feel safe enough to sleep right beside them at night because she didn’t want to intrude on their den. She even named each of the wolves based on observations she made about them. This makes the wolves seem more human-like. The wolves performed specific rituals when it came to hunting. Mishaps acquired dog- like behavior by licking and biting with the wolves in a playful manner.

The dogs had a certain order of urinating based on superiority in the family. The father would go first followed by the mother, then the young wolves, and Mishaps would go last. Mishaps clearly felt as though she were a part of the wolf pack family and found comfort in a family of wolves that she never found within her foster family. Mass I and Mass II are very unique in that they are written in the form of graphic novels. They depict the characters through the use of animal imagery. They are used to represent different nationalities and races.

The author, Art Spiegel, represents he Jews as mice and the Germans as cats to play on the idea that cats and mice don’t get along. While the Germans cats prey on the Jewish mice, the Americans are symbolized as dogs. Their Job is to save the mice from the cats. Representing the Americans as dogs suggests that they are powerful and loyal. The stereotype is that dogs hate cats, and therefore, will attack them in order to protect the mice. Whether or not their intention was to defend the mice, dogs keep reappearing throughout Holocaust literature to show that they have an authoritative role yet are very faithful as well.

The Americans in Mass I and II are not only portrayed as dogs, but they are humans with the faces of dogs on them. Spiegel chose to do this to represent animals as races. These dogs represent the Americans that came into the concentration camps to liberate the Jews and hunt down the cats. Their purpose was to protect the mice and be loyal to the Jews. This is different from the Nazis who walk around with real dogs with four legs and paws who were used to find Jews in hiding. The German cats are leading the dogs and using them to hunt instead of for companionship.

A Scrap of Time also incorporates the use of dogs. In the short story “The Black Beast”, a young boy leaves the home that he was hiding out in because the Nazis were searching for Jews. The woman, Mantilla, sends him to her uncle’s house where he stays overnight. The uncle was described as being hostile and intimidating not only by the way he converses with the boy but by his physical appearance as well. In the short story, there is a passage where the boy is climbing down from the attic where he is staying when he looks down and sees the dog. The dog was keeping an eye on the boy as if it were watching over him.

In the middle of the night, the dog loud climb up the ladder of the hut and stare at the boy. His eyes would glow like two green flames. Night after night, the boy would wait up for the dog, but it didn’t always show. What was an initial terror became a sense of comfort for the boy. He enjoyed the dogs visits and would get anxious when the dog didn’t appear. When the boy is finally sent back to stay with Mantilla, he takes off on his Journey, but the dog insisted that it go with him. “It was obvious that he was telling me something that people who understand the language of dogs would have understood,” (Fink, 57).

In this quote we can tell that the boy is thinking of the dog as a human because dogs have their own language as people do. The dog kept the boy from being lonely on his trip, and he was very grateful for this because he felt abandoned by everyone bark and he claims to have heard the word “Jump! ” audibly. The boy cleared the ditch because of the dogs encouraging barking. What seemed impossible soon became attainable all due to the bond the dog and boy had made. As the evening drags on, the boy lies down to take a nap and notices that the dog crouches beside IM and takes guard.

Again, the dog is serving as the boys protection, and he feels comfortable enough with the animal to sleep alone in the woods with him. Near the end of the short story, the boy confidently walks through the town of Okinawa and does not feel that he has to hide himself with the fear of being captured by the Nazis. The dog gives him a sense of security to be in full view of everyone. It is unusual that the dog gives him so much courage because he most likely would not have put himself at such a high risk if it were another Jewish person by his side.

The go does not guarantee him from being captured or that he will survive if a Nazi soldier spots him so what is it that makes the boy feel so protected? The reader is left unsure whether or not the dog actually existed because once the boy arrives at Mantilla’s house, she claims that she cannot see a dog. If the dog is not real, then we can assume that the boy made him up as a coping mechanism to feel safe and protected from the Nazi soldiers. In the short story, “A Dog”, a stray dog wandered into a home as he carried the newspaper containing reports of the Sino-Japanese incident.

This is how he got his Chinese name Chining. He was a very loyal dog who obeyed all of the family commands; however, he had a gloomy air about him. It was obvious that the dog was sad by the way he refused to play with toys and he spent most of his days sitting on a couch. The dog became very close with the housekeeper, Gate, and would sleep with her every night. She would treat the dog as if it were her own child. Evidence of this is in the quote, “She lavished all her affection on the squint-eyed dog- so much so, that she would hold the dog in her arms while making Jam, with no regard for hygiene,” (Fink, 26).

This is not how people armorial treat their pets, and we can see how Gate is treating the dog as if it were human. Gate would bring Chining into people’s rooms and tell him to kiss them good night. This behavior is what parents do before their children go to bed, and not a ceremony that a dog should perform. The town had an action where the Germans came and invaded homes in search for Jews. This is when Chining proved his loyalty as a dog. The Germans took Chining from Gate and demanded that the dog tell them where his master was. Chining silently sat there even after being bribed with food and did not make a sound.

Finally, he barked at them and chewed at the German’s calf until he was kicked. The story has a sad ending and Chining is hanged for not obeying the German’s orders. This shows the dogs incredible loyalty to save the family from being found and captured. It is no coincidence that Holocaust literature features dogs. This animal was chosen specifically because of the human-like qualities they possess such as loyalty, protection, and friendship. During the Holocaust, Jewish people did not feel that they could trust another human because of how deceitful people could be. Unfortunately, this devastating time period brought out the worst n people.

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