How does Antonina show individualism in The Zookeeper's Wife?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are any number of examples you could select to show her strong individualistic bent in this fascinating story. One of the most important to me comes in the way that she is ready and willing to use the zoo that she and her husband own to shield and protect both animals and Jews from the German military. This is clearly something that endangers her own life and the lives of those around her, and yet it is something that instinctively she feels is necessary. She and her husband feel that using the zoo, a "setting so exposed," to hide the Jews would be perfect, and she uses a signal, playing Offenbach's "Go, Go, Go to Crete" on the piano whenever her "guests" need to hide if there is danger approaching.

The fact that Antonia suffers from illness but remains so intent on protecting their Jewish "guests" from various oppressors shows her independent streak. Not only is she a force to be reckoned with, but also she is compassionate and willing to follow the dictates of her heart and morals in defying German rule and reaching out to those who are suffering around her.


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