Jane Yolen has structured the novel in such a way that it combines the innocence of a fairy tale with the harsh reality of the Holocaust. The words, “Once upon a time” are an instant indication of the fairy tale theme, Yolen is quite smart here, fairy tales bring back our childhood and embrace innocence and good prevailing over evil in the reassurance of a ‘happily ever after’ ending.
However in every fairy tale comes the darkness and horror of evil which in this case represents the genocide and mass execution of the holocaust. I can find two reasons why Yolen does this. When Gemma is telling Becca her story, no grandmother is going to tell her granddaughter about the mass murder and execution of millions of people, instead she will tell her the mystery of a fairy tale where she has to get her brain thinking to solve the mystery.
My other reason is for the reader, if Briar Rose was just straight up facts about the murder and execution of millions of people by the nazis, by the end of the book we would be mortified and require counseling. So with the inclusion of fairy tale, the reader still understands the harshness of the Holocaust but also is able to engage with the text and really enjoy it.
Jane Yolen uses many a theme to express the meaning of Briar Rose, there are two main themes that are evident through Gemma's story, one being the brutality and savagery of human nature which is juxtaposed by mans heroism and the ability to survive. The first theme being the brutality and savagery of human nature is represented through the Holocaust. The barbs of the rose thorns, the color black and the...