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Rachel-K
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Reporting the Story of the Jews

[ Edited ]

What are Frankie's immediate surprises on her trip to find the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

 

Who are the censors, how do they operate, and how does Frankie try to cope with their restrictions?

 

Of what use is the recorder? How do the people on trains respond to it?

 

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we know the history of the Holocaust)? What is your sense of Frankie's exhaustion and confusion? How does this play a role in her reporting?

 

Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

 

We see a few examples of characters attempting to help each other without any success--Frankie attempting to yell to the young mother about her son, Thomas trying to save Frankie by pulling her away from the windows, Frankie hoping to escort the young boy who has left his mother behind--what effect does this have on the story Frankie is trying to tell about what is happening in Europe?

 

Thomas tells his story of escape, and an old woman says "There was God looking out for you at every turn." Thomas answers "People looked out. Not God. There is not God. Only us." Which of our main characters would agree with Thomas, and which characters would agree with the old woman?

 

What stories-or bits of stories--were most meaningful for you?

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

 

I don't think Frankie fully realized the plight of the Jews until she rode the train and saw how helpless they truly were. They tried to escape but were victim of capricious circumstances. They were forced to make choices ordinary people never had to make and never should have had to make. They had to give up their children. They lived and died on the whim of a Nazi officer. They needed papers but they couldn't acquire them. When they did, their papers expired because of the system that was created to delay their escape. They needed the help of others who often impeded their escape without meaning to as with the incident with Thomas. I wondered if the train would have continued on if Frankie hadn't called attention to him when she banged on the window to try and save the little boy, by reuniting him with his mom, and then Thomas tried to pull her down. I felt the futility of her efforts knowing in hindsight that the little boy and his mom were probably going to die anyway. It was all so useless and Thomas was murdered in cold blood in front of her right after that.
Frankie was acting on instinct and emotion. She needed to get the story out but how can you get that kind of a story out without making people think, it couldn't possibly be true? She faced that dilemma and I loved when she tapped out, da, da, da dum....morse code for V or victory, with Beethoven's Fifth.

Rachel-K wrote:

What are Frankie's immediate surprises on her trip to find the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we are know the history of the Holocaust)? What is your sense of Frankie's exhaustion and confusion? How does this play a role in her reporting?

 

Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

 

We see a few examples of characters attempting to help each other without any success--Frankie attempting to yell to the young mother about her son, Thomas trying to save Frankie by pulling her away from the windows, Frankie hoping to escort the young boy who has left his mother behind--what effect does this have on the story Frankie is trying to tell about what is happening in Europe?

 

 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

 

Frankie wanted to continue Harriet's legacy by collecting true stories of what was happening to the Jews in Europe. I think Jim was trying to tell Frankie that people need soundbites that direct them to the place you want them to go with the information you provide. He probably felt that collecting so many stories was too diluted an approach and did not make it personal enough, would not let it touch people the way she wanted it to touch them. Too much information is rejected by most people.
However, in retrospect., the people who collected those stories provided the true history of the times. I think Frankie may have been a good enough reporter to collect and then sift out the parts she needed to direct the world's attention to the right place. She was one of the unsung heroes of World War II. There were many real reporters who tried to do just what she did. We often don't give enough credit to the journalists who put themselves in harm's way to expose the truth, whether or not people are listening.
Rachel-K wrote:

 

Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

 

 

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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006

Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

 


Great post TWJ!  Yes, Frankie at this stage of the story encapsulates the futility and desperation of all those trying to help the Jews at this time. She is between a rock and a hard place as so many were.
Frankie would have hard the  da, da, da dum of Beethoven's Fifth at the beginning of BBC radio News broadcasts every single day she was in England and probably whilst she was in Europe too.  I have put a link to this somewhere.   

thewanderingjew wrote:

 

I don't think Frankie fully realized the plight of the Jews until she rode the train and saw how helpless they truly were. They tried to escape but were victim of capricious circumstances. They were forced to make choices ordinary people never had to make and never should have had to make. They had to give up their children. They lived and died on the whim of a Nazi officer. They needed papers but they couldn't acquire them. When they did, their papers expired because of the system that was created to delay their escape. They needed the help of others who often impeded their escape without meaning to as with the incident with Thomas. I wondered if the train would have continued on if Frankie hadn't called attention to him when she banged on the window to try and save the little boy, by reuniting him with his mom, and then Thomas tried to pull her down. I felt the futility of her efforts knowing in hindsight that the little boy and his mom were probably going to die anyway. It was all so useless and Thomas was murdered in cold blood in front of her right after that.
Frankie was acting on instinct and emotion. She needed to get the story out but how can you get that kind of a story out without making people think, it couldn't possibly be true? She faced that dilemma and I loved when she tapped out, da, da, da dum....morse code for V or victory, with Beethoven's Fifth.

Rachel-K wrote:

What are Frankie's immediate surprises on her trip to find the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we are know the history of the Holocaust)? What is your sense of Frankie's exhaustion and confusion? How does this play a role in her reporting?

 

Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

 

We see a few examples of characters attempting to help each other without any success--Frankie attempting to yell to the young mother about her son, Thomas trying to save Frankie by pulling her away from the windows, Frankie hoping to escort the young boy who has left his mother behind--what effect does this have on the story Frankie is trying to tell about what is happening in Europe?

 

 


 

 

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BusyMom
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎02-19-2008

Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

Frankie went out looking for a story, but what she actually got was people.  And the people stayed with her, as evidenced by the sound clips she played over and over.  It actually made everything more real, more personal, not just something that was happening to anonymous faceless Jews, but something that was happening to these people that were right in front of her, that she was traveling with and talking to.  It took everything out of the abstract.

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jb70
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

I think she wanted to make it more personal for people back in the US.  It is easier to hide from the truth and what is going on in other countries when you can't see or hear the real people affected by the events.  Even for us, we can read about something but seeing someone on the news in the aftermath of some serious event makes more of an impact.  Frankie didn't want Harriet's death to have been for nothing and to honor her she kept going with the collecting and research, btu she didn't unstand the whole futility of the refugees until she was withthem and the had faces and names and stories.  She saw the hard choices they were making and all the obstactles that were thrown up in their way.

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CathyB
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Registered: ‎12-30-2006
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

What are Frankie's immediate surprises on her trip to find the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

 

I think she was immediately surprised by the vast number of people, their helplessness and their sacrifices.

 

Who are the censors, how do they operate, and how does Frankie try to cope with their restrictions?

 

I believe that the censors are Germans or German sympathizers. They cannot have Germany portrayed in a negative light - no resistance can be known. They control what the people can hear through fear.

 

Of what use is the recorder? How do the people on trains respond to it?

 

The recorder is giving voice to a people - it made them real. Some passengers were leary at first. Others embraced the chance to be heard, possibly remembered, one last time.

 

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we are know the history of the Holocaust)? What is your sense of Frankie's exhaustion and confusion? How does this play a role in her reporting? Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

 

Frankie is confronted with the situation head on - the people, the sacrifices, the murders, the callous treatment - it overwhelms her and she feels as though there is nothing she can do - she also feels responsible for the death of Thomas. She is dealing from a purely emotional state - she wants the world to be aware of the situation - by collecting as many sound bites as she can she hopes to weave together something that will touch others.

 

Jim believes that people need to be directed to the outcome - that the listener is not capable of putting the pieces together and coming to the conclusion that the reporter is going for. I agreee with this to some extent. The voice overlay and the sound bites need to go together - if the names, where they are going, where are they coming from are just played, I feel thatthe typical listener would switch the dial off.

 

We see a few examples of characters attempting to help each other without any success--Frankie attempting to yell to the young mother about her son, Thomas trying to save Frankie by pulling her away from the windows, Frankie hoping to escort the young boy who has left his mother behind--what effect does this have on the story Frankie is trying to tell about what is happening in Europe?

 

It makes her feel helpless and possibly a little reckless with her on life.

 

Thomas tells his story of escape, and an old woman says "There was God looking out for you at every turn." Thomas answers "People looked out. Not God. There is not God. Only us." Which of our main characters would agree with Thomas, and which characters would agree with the old woman?

 

Agree with Thomas - Will, Emma, Harriet

Agree with old woman - not sure - will need to think more

 

What stories-or bits of stories--were most meaningful for you?

 

Thomas asking Frankie to help hide him, his subsequent death and  the mother leaving her child.

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T-Mo
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Registered: ‎08-31-2009
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

What are Frankie's immediate surprises on her trip to find the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

 

I think Frankie was very naïve to think she was going to get on those trains and record a story. That is not to say that I think her wishes and hopes were not noble or for a worthy cause. Rather, I think she felt she was going to go in and come out with a story that would make her the saving grace of those people who were being forced out of their homes and terrorized. She soon realized how wrong she was, as the situation was far worse than she could have ever imagined. I don’t think she expected to find quite so many people, with so few means for escape.

 

Of what use is the recorder? How do the people on trains respond to it?

 

I think many of the people on the train are afraid of the recorder. I think, at this point, some of them just want to quietly get away, in the hopes that going unnoticed will spare them their lives. Others are certainly more open to the recorder. I think they are the ones who are more hopeful that they will reach safety.

 

What stories-or bits of stories--were most meaningful for you?

 

I thought it was very unfortunate and sad that Thomas took the chance of being seen, to save Frankie. It ultimately cost him his life, a life he had up until that point, been so lucky to spare. He was very noble, for he gave up his life in an effort to save hers.

 

I felt that the story of the mother leaving her son was heartbreaking and tragic. What that poor woman must have been going through, sending her young son away, not knowing if either of them would make it out of the war alive. All she could do was hope he would have a better life than the one he would have faced by staying in France. I just kept thinking how hard it must have been for her to stay strong in front of him. How hard it must have been for her to walk away from him and not look back. And he was so brave, not crying or making a scene when she left him. How does a mother relay that kind of message to a child so young- to stay strong, not cry, not draw attention to yourself… It was just so sad…

 

 

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ssizemore
Posts: 70
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

We feel Frankie's shock when the refugees are herded on and off of the trains and are left to suffer whatever fate comes.  She is shaken at the callousness of the officials and the disregard for children and families.  I was surprised that the people on the train were so anxious to speak into the recorder.  I would have thought they would be suspicious that someone might use this to their detriment.  On the other hand, it seems that they are desperate to leave a record of themselves, knowing that they might not be alive in the next moment, day, or month.  They are like those under a death sentence, wanting to leave something of themselves.  Frankie wants to record every story, every person, every life and cannot do it.  She is desperate to have a record of their lives lived as well.  She beomes emotionally involved with the people one by one and tries to help them, only to have her efforts crushed by their disappearance or death.  She is no longer detached, but confused and stunned from suffering such intense loss.  Thomas denies that God helped the people---many have said that God was not watching when all of the terrible events surrounding the Holocaust were happening.  To this day, we puzzle at the cruelty of man to man that our free will allows.  In contrast to the horrors, there were many people who used these events to do heroic things to save the lives of the Jews and others.  Frankie wants so desperately to tell the stories and, it seems to me, does so.

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PiperMurphy
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

Murrow told Frankie to "Get in, get the story, and get out." That seems like a very naive attitude for a newscaster of Murrow's caliber to have. I got the feeling that he had no idea what he was sending her to do or the true danger involved. I thought that Murrow and Frankie both felt that, as a member of the press, she would be free to travel with no problems. That attitude makes Frankie's encounter with reality that much more jarring and true. I remember thinking when she boarded the first train, "what if the train isn't going where it is supposed to be going?" I imagine that was something that the refugees thought about everytime they risked train travel, and they went anyway.

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emmagrace
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

thewanderingjew wrote:


 

I don't think Frankie fully realized the plight of the Jews until she rode the train and saw how helpless they truly were. They tried to escape but were victim of capricious circumstances. They were forced to make choices ordinary people never had to make and never should have had to make. They had to give up their children. They lived and died on the whim of a Nazi officer. They needed papers but they couldn't acquire them. When they did, their papers expired because of the system that was created to delay their escape. They needed the help of others who often impeded their escape without meaning to as with the incident with Thomas. I wondered if the train would have continued on if Frankie hadn't called attention to him when she banged on the window to try and save the little boy, by reuniting him with his mom, and then Thomas tried to pull her down. I felt the futility of her efforts knowing in hindsight that the little boy and his mom were probably going to die anyway. It was all so useless and Thomas was murdered in cold blood in front of her right after that.
Frankie was acting on instinct and emotion. She needed to get the story out but how can you get that kind of a story out without making people think, it couldn't possibly be true? She faced that dilemma and I loved when she tapped out, da, da, da dum....morse code for V or victory, with Beethoven's Fifth.


Well said!!

 

I think that it is awesome that Frankie is taking so many risks to get these stories out. These people need their voices heard! If the censors weren't there trying to keep the germans from looking bad, perhaps Frankie could tell America what is really going on.

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emmagrace
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

jb70 wrote:


I think she wanted to make it more personal for people back in the US.  It is easier to hide from the truth and what is going on in other countries when you can't see or hear the real people affected by the events.  Even for us, we can read about something but seeing someone on the news in the aftermath of some serious event makes more of an impact.  Frankie didn't want Harriet's death to have been for nothing and to honor her she kept going with the collecting and research, btu she didn't unstand the whole futility of the refugees until she was withthem and the had faces and names and stories.  She saw the hard choices they were making and all the obstactles that were thrown up in their way.


 I could not agree more. I certainly would have been moved hearing stories from the actual people that are going through ordeals!

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mediamissy
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Registered: ‎08-06-2009
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

 


What are Frankie's immediate surprises on her trip to find the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe?

     It seemed to me that Frankie's immediate surprise was the shear number of people that were trying to move across Europe.  The numbers of people compared to the number of trains just didn't add up.

 

Who are the censors, how do they operate, and how does Frankie try to cope with their restrictions?

     The censors are the intimidators.  They are everywhere and the search your thoughts ready to strike any second.  They know there is more to the story and they are there to assure it doesn't get out.

 

Of what use is the recorder? How do the people on trains respond to it?

      The recorder is expected to be used to record the story, in my mind it recorded the toll.  The death toll as we might thing of it now.  The people, the Jewish men, women and children who are searching for freedom.  Hoping to make it out but we will never know.

 

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we know the history of the Holocaust)? What is your sense of Frankie's exhaustion and confusion? How does this play a role in her reporting?  

     I can only imagine how exhausted it must be to ride the trains back and forth on crowded trains.  Watching the pained faces, exhausted bodies, the desperation on the faces and not knowing what happens, that must be where the confusion comes in.  How can the rest of the world be so unaware.

 

Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

    In sense I thought Frankie was a collector of names, faces, families, but at the same time I think she was also collecting the story, the real story.

 

What stories-or bits of stories--were most meaningful for you?

     For me the story of the young mother who held her son the whole way on the train to stand at the stop and leave him had the most effect on me.  As she was standing there saying goodbye the strength as a mother she showed was undeniable.  The crushing effect that it must have on a parent is unimaginable.  The young boy looking to find someone to give him comfort.  Still my heart pains for them.

 


 

 

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Zia01
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter? In a sense yes. She's a collector of names and some stories, but I think she's more of an observer trying to grasp the reasoning behind what she's witnessing.

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Choisya
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

 

She couldn't act as a journalist sending back stories from occupied Europe, unless through their censors.  So she has to collect the stories to use when she returns.  Foreign journalists were under great suspicion and their lives were in danger much of the time so much of their work was undercover.  Sometimes they filed stories through the French resistance and other underground movements but Frankie was travelling and could not do this..   

Zia01 wrote:

Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter? In a sense yes. She's a collector of names and some stories, but I think she's more of an observer trying to grasp the reasoning behind what she's witnessing.


 

 

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babzilla41
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

 

I think that Frankie has changed on this trip.  She has experienced the real human factor of those suffering from the effects of the war.  She has become emotionally involved.  She herself has experienced the fear of coming face to face with death. I think what she was doing on this trip was collecting - collecting the voices of those who will vanish in an instant.  I think she wants to keep their voices alive - to prove that they were living, breathing, feeling people; people who stop at nothing to save their families, regardless of the consequences to themselves.  

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

 

Apparently, the censors controlled the news that reached other countries so the nightmare that was taking place would not be known outside their own countries. I would be surprised if during the war, some of the things that Frankie did would not have gone unpunished. She pretended to be naive. The Nazis were anything but, and they would have been on to her quickly. She was not, after all, a totally unknown persona. Perhaps she could be considered the alter ego to Mata Hari.
The Nazis were very efficient and well organized. They had to be to enable them to commit the horrors they did without worldwide attention. Those who survived, often did simply because of happenstance, fate intervened in some way or another. Mostly it was a lucky turn of events for the survivor, if you can call anything lucky that happened to them, in those days.
I do not think that Frankie's recorder would have really been a useful tool on the trains. If I was a Jew on the train, (and I am a Jew, thankfully not trying to escape), calling attention to myself would have been the last thing on my mind. How could I know that she could be trusted? People were turning in family members, friends, etc. How could they trust a stranger not knowing if she was a spy.
I found it really hard to read about the incidents in the book. There was no one particular incident that stood out. I found them all painful. I know too many people who lived it. I think, for a Jew, it hits too close to home and sometimes, some of us, don't even want to learn about it. It is too awful to even think about. I realize that others, besides Jews, were murdered, but the numbers of Jews systematically slaughtered, just for being Jews, is mind boggling.
Rachel-K wrote:
Who are the censors, how do they operate, and how does Frankie try to cope with their restrictions?
Of what use is the recorder? How do the people on trains respond to it?

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we know the history of the Holocaust)?

 

 

 

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Quzygirl
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

What a moving part of the story... Frankie of course was not just a reporter, but like a "book of remembrance" as she recorded the voices that may never be heard again. I think she was surprised by the whole situation, the number of people, the horrible circumstances, the "no way out" that made the plight of the Jews so hopeless. And I think that was true for most of Americans at that time...

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dhaupt
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

[ Edited ]

The first thing I think Frankie realized about the plight of the Jews in Europe was that Harriet was right, that they were being singled out and moved without reasons. Also how they were treated, being shot without provocation, having tickets and visas and not being let on trains, and we now know where those trains eventually ended.

 

As I reader this is opening up a past chapter in our history one that I don't like to think about, but am glad that will never be forgotten. It brings up bad memories during my childhood of people denouncing the plight during the war still after all the evidence saying it never happened. I can't imagine leaving my child on the train hopefully finding safety like the one mother did and going back to who knows what.

 

Jim Holland is an as- , he's one of the good olde boys who only thought women in the newsroom were good for getting coffee and a little patty cake. I don't agree with him about Frankie not having a story, it's just not the story that America wants to hear.

 

 

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jenieliser
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Registered: ‎09-03-2009
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Re: Reporting the Story of the Jews

Who are the censors, how do they operate, and how does Frankie try to cope with their restrictions?

The censors are apparently German officers who control what goes on the air and what doesn't. Frankie works around them by sort of coding her reports. I LOVED the humming!!! It was ingenious!

 

Of what use is the recorder? How do the people on trains respond to it?

The recorder captures people for a moment and lets them live on, lets other people hear their story, even if its just a partial story. The people on the trains seem to have mixed responses. Some were hesitant, but then one even said Thank you.

 

What is it like for you as a reader to come across so many bits and pieces of these life stories (since unlike Frankie or any of the other characters, we know the history of the Holocaust)? What is your sense of Frankie's exhaustion and confusion? How does this play a role in her reporting?

It is quite depressing and touching to hear these bits and pieces. From this percpective-knowing how it all turned out, I find myself treasuring their words and thoughts more than if I had been on that end of the time frame. Frankie is so exhausted-she's getting a bit desperate. Her reporting has changed. She's walking on the line, that humming...she's more daring. I think she's entered the "Forget it all" stage, but her exhaustion is slowing her down a bit, making her a little unfocused.

 

Jim Holland tells Frankie she doesn't have a story. Why not? Do you agree? Is Frankie a "collector" on this trip rather than a reporter?

Jim thinks she is storyless because there is no connecting the dots with what she's got. We see the story clearly because we know what happened. We know about the concentration camps, the sad ending to sad stories. But they don't knwo that yet.  

We see a few examples of characters attempting to help each other without any success--Frankie attempting to yell to the young mother about her son, Thomas trying to save Frankie by pulling her away from the windows, Frankie hoping to escort the young boy who has left his mother behind--what effect does this have on the story Frankie is trying to tell about what is happening in Europe?

She's trying to get America to help, trying to get anyone who hears her reporting to help. But she feels so useless-her attempts are failing. You can hear it in her voice when she talks to Murrow.

 

Thomas tells his story of escape, and an old woman says "There was God looking out for you at every turn." Thomas answers "People looked out. Not God. There is not God. Only us." Which of our main characters would agree with Thomas, and which characters would agree with the old woman?

I can see Emma agreeing with the lady. Will would agree with Thomas I think. 

What stories-or bits of stories--were most meaningful for you?

Oh goodness...the little boy whose mother didn't have papers, only he could go. That was so sad!