Discussion Topic

Erika's influence on Daniel and her personal transformation in Daniel's Story

Summary:

Erika significantly influences Daniel in Daniel's Story by providing hope and resilience. Her personal transformation is marked by her determination to survive and her ability to inspire others, including Daniel, to maintain their humanity and hope amidst the horrors of the Holocaust.

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How has Erika changed in Daniel's Story?

In Daniel's Story by Carol Matas, Daniel's sister, Erika, is a small girl with “brown wavy hair and brown eyes and a little nose that she would rub when she was worried.” She is also a talented musician who turns to her violin and her musical compositions in times of stress and fear. Daniel thinks that his sister is a very pretty girl as he looks at a picture of her at twelve years old.

Life changes quickly for Daniel's family when they are forced to move into the Jewish ghetto in Lodz. Erika goes to work at the sewing factory. Food is scarce; proper clothing is hard to come by; and illness is rampant. The family worries that the Nazis will take Erika because she has become so “thin and pale and small for her age.” She is not growing like she would have in a healthy environment; in fact, the work and the conditions are taking a serious toll on her. The family even hides Erika from the Nazis out of fear that she will be deported.

Soon, however, Erika is “nothing but skin and bones,” and she begins to develop a cough. Only her music keeps her going, and she composes beautiful, happy songs to keep up the spirits of all around her and her own as well. Erika's cough worsens into bronchitis, and she suffers from a fever and chills. She becomes very weak, and the family is terrified again that the Nazis will take her.

Daniel's family is eventually moved to Auschwitz, and Daniel's father believes that Erika is dead. Daniel is not so sure. Daniel is proven right, for he sees his sister playing the violin with the band. She is pale and “almost like a skeleton,” and she still coughs. Her eyes, Daniel notices, are “hollow, empty.” Erika believes that her whole family is dead, but when she sees her brother and father, she smiles, and hope comes back into her eyes.

When the war is finally over, Daniel returns to Lodz and reunites with Rosa. He learns from her that Erika had been liberated but had “no more strength” left. Rosa tells Daniel that she sat with Erika and comforted her until the girl died.

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How does Daniel's view of the human race change because of Erika in Daniel's Story?

Daniel's Story is a 1993 historical fiction novel written by Canadian novelist Carol Matas. It tells the story of a young Jewish boy named Daniel who survives the horrors of the Holocaust during World War II. Daniel believes that the human race is a disgrace, and that humans deserve to be punished for their cruelty. However, his younger sister Erika manages to change his opinion by explaining to him and his girlfriend Rosa that all people are born with a choice to be either good or bad; the Nazis have chosen to be bad because they believe that it is the right thing to do, as they live in "a world based on hate."

She tells them that, in this case, the people have three options: they can choose to sit still and do nothing to change the situation, they can accept the evil regime of Nazi Germany and live with it, or they can "make things better" by being kind and humane. Erika reminds her brother to remember the people who suffered by all of the hatred in the world, and she tells him that he should be wiser and stronger and choose to be good; thus, he will be able to create and live in a world based on love and kindness.

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