The use of allegory drives the story along. It is a constant reminder of The Holocaust to ensure the reader is not too captivated by the fairy tale element of the novel. The use of allegory grounds the novel, gives it a sense of realism. Whilst the story Yolen tells is fictional the setting in which they exist is not. By using true elements in the building and development of characters they are made believable. Characters in this story are not perfect and have many flaws and imperfections, an example of this are the fact that the character of Josef is a homosexual. It is a far cry from the stereotypical prince that is perfect in every way.
Through Josef's homosexuality it demonstrates an important fact about the Holocaust which is rarely touched, the common misconception that only those of Jewish were targeted when in actuality several other minorities were targeted, such as homosexuals, Gypsies, and the disabled (mental and physical).
The courage and strength expressed in the parallel tales help to develop the characters and different themes simultaneously. These tales bring with them the struggle of the human spirit overcoming adversity but at the same time makes the characters humble and portrays them not as heroes but as ordinary people, surviving against almost certain death, people just trying to live. By Yolen making the characters so real she is able to never let the story soar into pure fantasy.
The tale of Sleeping Beauty which is told throughout Briar Rose is initially an innocent story told by a grandmother to her grandchildren. We soon realize that this is not the case and it is, in actuality, the...