Who is Martha?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Martha is Eliezer's family's maid.  She offers to help the family when they are rounded up and placed in the ghetto.  She understands, or at least has a good idea, about what is in store for them.  In bringing out one of the fundamental themes in the book, the family declines her help.  The significance of this reflects the futility or failure of human freedom in the Holocaust.  We see this several times in the narrative.  The decision to evacuate the camp, when it would have been liberated in only a couple of days.  The need to try to get along in the brutal conditions, only to find that it would have made no difference with whatever decision is made.  The rejection of Martha's offer of help is part of this schematic whereby individuals have freedom and try to use it, only to be undercut by the conditions of life that make the use of such freedom futile or fruitless.  The situation with Martha is one such example.

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