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The greatest generation

The greatest generation

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The greatest generation

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  1. The greatest generation Bildungsroman – Coming of Age

  2. The Greatest Generationby Tom Brokaw • “World War II came to a chaotic but welcome end . . . . The heart of Europe was in ruins . . . . In places called Auschwitz and Dachau and Belsen, the full horrors of the Holocaust were just beginning to be realized . . . . In Japan, the devastating effects of the explosion of two atomic bombs were so great that they could not be fully appreciated . . . .”

  3. “An estimated 50 million people were dead; in the heart of Western civilization, the physical, political, and moral landscape was littered with bodies, ruined states, national guilt, and great uncertainty. Victorious allies began a dance of celebration and also of mutual suspicion and territorial determination.”

  4. “ As that turmoil played out on the world state, the American men and women whose young lives had been defined first by the Great Depression and then by the sacrifices of the war came home to start families, begin careers, build communities, serve their nation in uniform and in political office. Who would have blamed them if they had retuned and said simply, ‘I’ve done my share. Let someone else take care of the world.’? “ • “They did not, of course. Instead, they gave us the lives we have today.”

  5. “They answered the call to help save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs.” • “ . . . At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting, often hand to hand, in the most primitive conditions possible . . . .”

  6. “When the war ended, more than twelve million men and women put their uniforms aside and returned to civilian life. . . .They weren’t widely known outside their families or their communities. For many, the war years were enough adventure to last a lifetime. They were proud of what they accomplished, but they rarely discussed their experiences, even with each other. They became once again ordinary people, the kind of men and women who always have been the foundation of the American way of life.”

  7. A Separate Peace by John KnowlesThe Chosen by ChaimPotok • Both novels are examples of the Bildungsroman genre of literature, a novel whose main character matures over time, usually from childhood.

  8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles • Knowles based the novel on the atmosphere during his summer at Exeter academy and the background of WWII. This war threatens his future and the futures of his classmates. His main character fights an inner destructive self as well as the violence of the outer world. • The first person narrator is an angry adolescent boy and therefore is not completely reliable, “a mixture of reality and perceptions.”.”

  9. Critical Reviews • “A Separate Peace is the most historical, the most specifically concerned with the atmosphere of a particular place and a particular moment in time.” The New York Times; May 4, 1986; Donald Barr • “One more foray into the territory of guilt earned in adolescence.” Commonwealth; December 9, 1960; Jean Holzhauer

  10. Novel at a Glance • The setting, Devon School in New Hampshire, provides a microcosm of the upheaval of the summer of 1942 and WWII. • The outer conflict is manifested in the injury of one boy caused by another boy. The inner conflict is revealed as the injured learns to cope with his loss and as the aggressor learns to cope with his guilt. • Symbols within the novel include the tree, a marble staircase, the two rivers, and the school.

  11. The Chosen by ChaimPotok • “ChaimPotok has created a body of work that expresses humanity’s struggle between the urge to pursue the sacred and the necessity of dealing with the compromises levied by the secular world. Both Potok’s life and his work seem to demonstrate that a balance can be achieved.”

  12. Historical Context – Setting, and Conflict • The outer conflict of the novel is between the Orthodox Jews and the Hasidic Jews. The ideological differences began in Poland during the 18th century. Orthodox Jews are influenced by the Enlightenment using modern methods of scholarship. The only traditional vestments they wear are the yarmulke and prayer shawl for worship. The Hasidic Jews try to keep their culture untainted and intact. Many Jews of both groups immigrated to Brooklyn, NY.

  13. Judaism- the Torah, the Talmud • The Torah is the Law given to Moses by God composing the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. • The Talmud is a “vast collection of civil, religious, and ethical laws based upon Jewish teaching.” It was passed to each generation orally until written in the Mishnah with interpretation in the Gemara.

  14. Literary Context • The Chosen is part of the flourishing Jewish-American literature which began in the 1930s. • Potok’s novels reveal the dilemmas faced by adolescents learning the nature of the world and their purpose in it, a Bildungsroman. • Potok criticizes some Jewish writers who are guilty of inadequate research. Potok is a rabbi giving him a unique vantage point to make such judgments.

  15. Structure, Point-of-view, Symbols • The novel has three books, each beginning with an epigraph which reinforces the central themes of the story: a father and son relationship and the power of silence. • The narrator is ReuvenMalter. His first person point-of-view is colored with his emotions and observations. However, he does include perspectives of other characters. • Symbols and motifs to consider are spider webs, clouded vision, and light and dark.

  16. Irony • Situational irony is a strong element in the story. The friendship begins with hatred and prejudice. Danny is “chosen” to replace his father as tzaddik and wants to escape. Reuven is not pressured to become a rabbi but does. Danny and his father Reb Saunders are scholars of Jewish mysticism yet seem dominated by intellect. Reuven and his father David Malters approach faith logically yet seem more full of “heart” than “intellect.”

  17. Themes • Conflict- Father and son, secular life and religious life • Communication and silence • Choice • Friendship

  18. Commentaries on A Separate Peace and The Chosen from Study Guide by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston