GCSE English Literature Unit 1: Kindertransport
AO1 Respond to texts critically and imaginatively; select and evaluate relevant textual detail to illustrate and support interpretations
AO2 Explain how language, structure and form contribute to writers’ presentation of ideas, themes and settings.
Why study this text?
The play deals with the individual effect of the transportation of German Jewish children in 1939 on Eva/Evelyn and her mother, Helga. The background to the transportation and the rise of Nazism leading to the systematic extermination of the Jews and other people deemed undesirable by the totalitarian state is clearly one of the most important lessons of history from the last century. The legacy of the inhuman treatment of the people is strongly grounded in our national consciousness. Film of the liberation of the concentration camps will have been seen by most pupils and they will understand the horror and the tragedy of this particular example of ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’. The play looks beyond the physical death of the millions who suffered in the camps through portraying the life of a survivor, Eva/Evelyn, the girl who changed her identity and who was saved by the sacrifice of her mother. However, the new life meant the death of the old and the loss of relationship and identity with the mother who gave up her precious ‘jewel’. The symbolism of the mouth organ, or childhood itself, provides rich opportunities for exploring the power of language through close reading. The play will provoke discussion and thinking about family and self-identity, how the present is affected by the past, and learning to live with our demons and insecurities (here embodied in the role of the Ratcatcher).
Background and context
Kindertransport was the term used for the removal of Jewish children from Germany during the late 1930s. Anti-Semitism had swept Germany after the election of the National Socialists and the...
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