Briar Rose English Essay

The holocaust was a horrific time for one to go through and caused large scale damage to the Jewish population as a whole. The story of Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen tells a story about the Holocaust which is intertwined with the fairytale 'Sleeping Beauty'. One of the main characters, Gemma uses this well known fairytale to hide the horrors that she experienced during the Holocaust, as she is unable to tell her family the full extent of what had happened all those years ago. The text also explores the idea that our personal stories are what shapes us into who we are and who we are going to become.

Yolen uses the existing fairytale 'Sleeping Beauty' to tell the truth about Gemma's brutal past whilst she was caught up in the horrific acts during the Holocaust. Stan's comment "Stories.. Have hidden truths." Is significant as Gemma creates her own personal version of Sleeping Beauty. Gemma tells this story to her three grandchildren, Shana, Sylvia and Becca. Out of the three the story has the most impact on the youngest, Becca. On her death bed, Gemma's last words were "I am Briar Rose." Gemma says this to Becca, urging her to find the hidden truth within her story. Gemma's story had symbolic connections that are too much of a coincidence for Becca to ignore. In her version of the fairytale, Gemma explains that there was a "mist" that fell around the castle which caused everyone to "sleep for a hundred years". Later in the novel we discover that the mist represented the gas used to suffocate the Holocaust victims. Gemma hides her experiences of the Holocaust in the story of 'Sleeping Beauty' and as Becca correctly states, it is a metaphor of her life.

In the extract Stan says "Stories... We are made up of stories. And even the ones that seem most like lies can be our deepest hidden truths." This quote highlights the idea that our stories are what makes us who we are and they are very important to us. Becca finds...