Analyze Sara Smolinsky’s quest while also including a discussion of the novel’s theme.

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

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Sara Smolinksy's quest to “make myself for a person" embodies the novel's theme.  The notion of being able to carve out one's identity in a new setting, faced with overwhelming external and internal challenges becomes both the theme of the work and Sara's quest.  Her need to "make myself for a person" is seen in her resistance to capitulate to traditional notions of being a woman.  Her quest compels her to face challenges such as poverty, limited opportunity, and a social setting that does not reinforce the value of her quest.  Yet, she does not resign herself to failure.  She fights through and is able to accomplish her own identity without the propping of culture and tradition.  She is able to “make myself for a person."  This ties into the theme of the novel in that individuals can assert their own voice and forge their identities as human beings.  While there might be barriers towards doing so, one can assert voice even in the most challenging of conditions.  Sara's quest is the representation of the novel's theme, one in which individual identity is not the victim of generational inertia or external resistance.  It is the benefactor of the individual's will and commitment to “make myself for a person."

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