What is the climax of the novel? Explain fully how the author arrived at this climax.

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morgan91 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The climax of Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally begins after Schindler, a factory owner and Nazi war profiteer, bears witness to the escalating violence and mass murders of Jewish individuals in the ghettos of Nazi-occupied Poland. The climax occurs while, upon the evacuation of the Krakow ghetto, Schindler spots a small Jewish girl in a red coat and is overcome by the image of the child and the horrific violence he has witnessed. Schindler finds himself unexpectedly experiencing a new kind of humanity and compassion for the Jews and becomes consumed with the idea of helping them survive. Schindler decides to open his factory as a haven to Jewish people facing the unimaginable horrors of Hitler’s Europe in hopes of keeping them somewhere safe.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The highest point of the novel might arguably be Schindler's decision to help the Jews run the underground movement (chapter 17). But the true climax may not actually come until chapter 37, when Arthur Schindler fully comprehends the meaning of the inscription on the ring given to him by the rescued workers. It reads, "He who saves a single life saves the world entire." (This is an echo of the Talmudic verse found in chapter 2.)

By chapter 37, we, as readers (as well as Schindler himself) are able to comprehend the full meaning of this truism. No longer is it simply a worthy sentiment, but through Schindler's efforts, one man has made a measurable difference in the world.

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