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English Project

Milkweed-Jerry Spinelli
by

Jenny Conant

on 17 June 2013

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Transcript of English Project

Jenny Conant
Period 3
Milkweed
By Jerry Spinelli Exposition The protagonist in this book is a young orphaned boy. He his nameless but is often referred to as Misha Pilsudski, Misha Milgrom, Jack Milgrom, and many others like "Runt, Gypsy, and Jew," throughout the book. Inciting Incident The climax in this story happens when Misha is shot in the head by his old friend Uri because Misha was trying to find his friend Janina who was being taken away. Uri was always sneaking away and telling Misha, "Don't tell anyone!" From the urgency in Uri's voice I can now infer that Uri was actually training to become a Nazi all the days he was not present in the ghetto. Earlier in the book, Uri had told Misha, "One of these days I'm going to have to kill you to keep you alive." True to his word it is none other than Uri who shoots Misha. Misha is shot because all the Jews living in the ghetto were to be deported or "resettled" to "villages in the east," and Misha was resisting deportation. The falling action in this book is when Misha is living in America. He is still sad over the loss of Janina and his friends, but he manages to get by, by selling items on the street. He isn't very good at his job, but one customer always comes and listens to his crazy stories. The customer's name is Vivian and she likes Misha so much that she says, "Okay, I'll marry you," even before Misha has asked her. Unfortunately, the marriage between the two doesn't last long because Vivian realizes that, "living with me [Misha] was different from playing cards with me [Misha]." When Vivian leaves, Misha guesses she is pregnant, but Vivian leaves abruptly and Misha is unsure if his prediction is true or not. Elements of Fiction The overall theme in this story is learn to overcome hard places in your life and continue your new life with a new perspective of the world. This is the overall theme because when you see Misha develop in this story you notice how much he has had to overcome to get as far in life as he did. Misha struggled against the Nazis, Uri, the reality of living in poverty during World War II, and so much more. He had various events in his life where his path and a Nazi soldier's path just so happened to meet. For example, Misha has to deal with one Nazi named Buffo who, "killed people with his bare hands with the smell of mint in his breath." Uri, his once only friend had turned against him to survive in this cut-throat world and Misha's last token of remembrance of ever meeting Uri were the last two words Uri shouted, "Die Piglet!" Lastly, Misha had to deal with how real war really is and how it changes people and corrupts them. When he was living with the Milgroms, a kind family who had taken him in at the ghetto, there were other people also occupying the house and they stole from the Milgroms. The Milgroms had given these people a place to stay and their guests had stolen the, "silver candle holder," to sell for money and food. Stealing was the guests way of saying thanks for letting us stay here.

I think Jerry Spinelli focuses on this theme to really make people reading this book think twice about what they have. The theme encourages the reader to ask more questions and dig a little deeper for the answers. Plus, the reader might
be able to somehow relate this theme to something they may have witnessed, heard about, or been a part of. Elements of Fiction Continued "Milkweed," is told in first person point of view by the protagonist Misha. I know it is told in first person point of view because Misha uses personal pronouns such as, "I, me, we, my, and us," when describing scenes in the book. In the first chapter it becomes clear that it is first person point of view because the very first sentence is, "I am running." I think the author told the story in first person point of view because it feels like you are living in the moment with Misha. I think you understand the story better by seeing it the way Misha sees it and this is important because this is probably how many other orphaned children felt during the Holocaust. Jerry Spinelli most likely wanted you to feel more involved in Misha's life. First person narration made this book more interesting because you could clearly see Misha's outlook on life. For example, Misha said at the beginning of the book, "I want to be a Jackboot someday." Since Misha didn't know what the Nazis were doing he looked at them as role models, when they were really horrible people. This demonstrates that Misha wasn't too connected with the rest of the world because he didn't have time to catch up on who the Nazis were or what they had none. Being a child, Misha viewed them all with a clean slate and an open minded attitude. Misha tells the story in first person point of view and it is great because you get much more from the reading when looking at life from his perspective. The setting in this story is set in Warsaw, Poland somewhere between 1939 and 1945, during the Nazi occupation or World War II. I know it is set during the Nazi occupation because Jerry Spinelli constantly works Nazis into the plot, by making the main character want to become a Nazi, or "Jackboot," as Misha calls them. He also helps bring Nazis into the story by having the protagonist encounter the Nazis in everyday life. One commonly mentioned Nazi is Buffo, a character that Misha struggles against while living in the ghetto. I know it is in Warsaw, Poland because the setting is included on the back of the book. Early in the story, the mood is sympathy and sadness toward Misha. You feel very sympathetic because he is an orphaned boy during the Nazi occupation who has to steal food just to survive. The author really draws emotions from you by describing the hard times Misha is forced to live in. For example, Misha can't even remember his parents or the first time he began stealing food to survive. Climax The inciting incident is when Misha is stealing bread from a rich woman and he is caught by another orphaned boy named Uri. The woman was so rich that, "she'll just buy ten more [loaves of bread.]" This event effects Misha's life because he is introduced to a new life of crime. Now, not only does Misha steal for himself, but he steals for the orphans and a group of friends he now knows because of Uri. The group of friends he steals for are all misfits and orphans, some of their names were Enos, Kuba, Olek and Ferdi. Also, Misha learns how to steal for a purpose and not be caught, all this time instructed by his good friend Uri. Throughout this story Misha has grown a lot. Misha has gone from a shallow orphaned boy, to a young man who knows and has experienced how hard life can be. An example of this is when Misha was younger, he only thought of himself and his needs, never others and what they needed. However, after Misha learns how hard life really is, his outlook on life has changed. He has experienced living in poverty and being looked down upon by Nazis and fellow Jews. He really starts life anew in America. There, he thinks more of others, although by then he has gone a bit crazy because the loss of Janina and his friends was so hard on him. Misha's feelings about life and his perspective on life changed greatly from the beginning of the book to the end. The main coflict Misha struggles against is simply surviving as an orphan during World War II. He has to try incredibly hard to survive in a world against the Nazis where everything is either, 'black or white.' You either belong and are important or you are worthless and have no place in the world during this time. Misha is an orphan so he does not really have a background which makes it easy for people to call him a "stupid Jew, runt, and Gypsy, " He doesn't really belong so there is no way for him to stick up for himself. He also struggles to prove to himself who he really is. Since he does not know where he comes from or what religion he is, it was hard for some of his friends to accept him. This made Misha's life even harder than it already was. The main conflict Misha faces is the Nazis and learning to outwit them, yet Misha is also struggling internally with the person he is and the person he feels he might have been, had his life been different. The outcome of this is after Misha is shot he blacks out. Afterward he is trying to find Janina who had gotten onto the train and was now probably far away from Warsaw. Misha wanders aimlessly trying to find Janina and he is so confused that he starts asking people he encounters questions like, "Do you have water?" and "Do you know her [Janina?]" Eventually, Misha is discovered by a man who takes him back to his farm. There Misha works for the farmer and his wife Elzbieta. The Nazis had issued a new law that, "All children must work on the farms," so Misha works on the farms until one day he is told to run away. When he runs away he finds out that after three years the war has ended. Now, Misha learns to peddle items such as shoes and cigarette lighters. Eventually, Misha sells enough items to, "buy a steamship ticket," to America where he is renamed Jack Milgrom by an immigration officer. He is overcoming the situation of trying to find Janina by starting a new chapter in his life in America where hopefully things will get better for him. When he arrives in America he tries to put his past behind him and start fresh, but he finds it is harder said than done. Elements of Fiction Continued on the Next Slide The remaining questions you have when reading the end of this book are "Does Misha's life get better?" and "Where is Misha today?" These questions are answered on the last few pages. Misha's life does get better and you see him so much happier than he was when you first met him. Misha is living with his daughter and granddaughter, enjoying every second they spend together. In addition to this, Jerry Spinelli explains where Misha is today. Misha is living his life out with his newly discovered daughter and granddaughter. You can infer that though his life was full of twists and turns his life did indeed turn out alright in the end. The ending definitely completes this story by tying up loose ends, and answering lingering questions you might have had. This book does not require a sequel because I think Jerry Spinelli leaves you content with the outcome of Misha's life. He ends the book so well that he does not require another book to give you further information about the story. I hope you enjoyed my project on "Milkweed." Thanks for reading! Falling Action Later on in Misha's life, his daughter finds him at a grocery store stocking shelves. His daughter's name was Katherine and his granddaughter's name was Wendy. All the years Katherine had been searching for her father, she had left Wendy's middle name blank so Misha could pick her name. The middle name Misha chooses to give Wendy is Janina, in memory of his old friend. Misha then ends up living with his daughter and granddaughter in Elkins Park. His life becomes full of joy and happiness once more. He lives his last years out happily and with little regrets. This is one minor conflict that was resolved at the end.
There aren't too many other minor conflicts that have to be solved at the end of the book. The only other minor conflict that was solved was Misha was finally heard by two women who stopped to listen to his mindless spiel. They understood him and they "smiled," and, "nodded," saying "We hear you. It's enough. It's over." These two women somehow managed to help Misha stop talking just to hear himself talk on the streets of Atlanta, New Jersey. The conflict that was solved was an internal battle that Misha fought against himself. He only talked to console himself, but the two women that had taken time to stop and listen had made Misha feel heard. He no longer needed to talk his troubles away because he could finally feel valued and that was just enough to change his life.
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