Can you live without it? Essay

Can you live without it? Essay

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Have you ever had a possession that was so essential to your existence that you felt you couldn’t live without it? For instance, I have known many people who have said. I will die without that! They may be speaking of things such as their cell phone, or their Blackberry. In these cases being without these items probably wouldn’t cause them to die. Similarly, there are also people who hold onto items that belonged to a loved one, no longer in their life, who believe that without this item, they will die. I have a hope chest that my dad built me when I was a senior in high school. He passed away just a couple of years later and I have to say that I’ve been guilty of the mentality of I would just die without that because the hope chest is so special to me. After reading “The Shawl”, I have revised my thinking though. In the short story “The Shawl” written by Cynthia Ozick, the shawl is a critical part of this small family’s existence. The shawl is shown to truly be a possession that someone cannot live without.
In the very beginning of the story we start to learn of the shawl’s importance to a small family. We see Rosa carrying her baby, Magda, wrapped in the shawl. Rosa and her niece Stella are walking on the road together. They are so very, very cold, “the coldness of hell”. (Ozick 1) Magda’s baby, Rosa is wrapped up snugly in the shawl while she suckles at her mother’s breast. (Ozick 3-8) In this we see how the shawl is critical for Magda’s warmth.
Soon, Orick describes the hunger and how Rosa is starving and has no milk for the baby. We see that the baby is starving. Orick describes the baby physically as being “fifteen months old and having spindly legs that could not hold up her fat belly that was fat wi...


... middle of paper ...


...fence and stands dumbstruck looking at her baby daughter’s body. She stands watching trying to decide whether to go to her or stay where she is in safety. She decides to stay where she is and she takes a corner of the shawl into her own mouth and stuffs it in as far as she can. Once again the shawl is there for protection from screaming, and for comfort in her loss.
Throughout the story we saw the importance of the shawl and the different needs that it met. We saw it used for warmth, curbing hunger and the need to suck, entertainment, love, comfort, and protection. Because of the circumstances of Magda’s life and her lack of worldly possessions and emotional fulfillment, the shawl was indeed an item that Magda could not live without!


Works Cited
Ozick, Cynthia. Ms Brogan, English at Harry Truman High School. Ed. Brogan. 22 August 2009. .

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