In Seedfolks, why did Amir retell the story of the Polish woman who had been in a concentration camp?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amir, an Indian immigrant, moved to Clevland in 1980. He mentions that it's hard to meet people in America because most individuals go out of their way to avoid contact and keep to themselves. Amir says when he first moved to Clevland he had pre-conceived notions about Polish immigrants. He was familiar with the common stereotypes associated with the Poles but never got to actually know a Polish person individually. He says, "I'd always hear that the Polish men were tough steelworkers and that the women cooked lots of cabbage. But I'd never known one---until the garden" (Fleischman 76). Amir began planting his carrots next to an elderly Polish woman's plot, and they developed a friendship. He noticed that she didn't thin her carrot plants by removing the unhealthy-looking plants every few inches to give the other plants room to grow. When he asked her why, she told him that the task of thinning her carrot plants reminded her too much of the concentration camps where prisoners were divided into two lines. She says that the prisoners were inspected each morning, and the unhealthy prisoners were chosen to die. She goes on to tell Amir that her father was a violinist who spoke out against Germany. Amir says,

"When I heard her words, I realized how useless was all that I'd heard about Poles, how much richness it hid, like the worthless shell around an almond. I still do not know, or care, whether she cooks cabbage" (Fleischman  77).


The reason Amir retold the story about the Polish woman was to explain how generalizations and stereotypes do not take into account the unique, personal experiences of each individual. He essentially is encouraging the reader not to judge a person based on their nationality, race, or gender.

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