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Lesson plans for ages 12-14 in Language & Literature

Teaching Tools, 25 February 2007

LESSON 10

Discussion questions

  • Esther was ten when her world was turned upside down by the confiscation of her family's property by Russian soldiers, and she with her parents and grandmother were sent to Siberia. After five years of exile, they can finally go home, and yet, Esther seemed a bit reluctant leave the harsh place which had become her home. Why?
  • It has often been noted that immigrant children pick up the language of a new place faster than the adults, and also become assimilated into the society of the new country quickly. Could this notion be applicable to Esther? Did she want to blend in with the people around her? Was she always welcomed?
  • The book began with Esther's childhood completely enclosed within the world of her large extended family in Vilna. Then, for five years, the Siberian village to which her family had been exiled was her complete world, physically isolated from Europe and mentally and emotionally enclosed by the worries of daily survival. The book ends with their return to Poland, where all the markers of their prewar life have been destroyed by the Second World War. How do you think Esther will cope? (This could be an essay topic.)
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