In the book if i should die before I wake, the author, Han Nolan, portrays
Chana to be a very strong person emotionally. Chana’s strength is shown
throughout the book from losing her family one by one, to the consequences
dealing with escaping Lodz. Chana lost her father first; he was shot by
Nazis.(16-18) Next Chana’s little sister Nadzia left the family to live with
non-Jews.(43-44) In the ghetto Zade died of old age and malnutrition.(89,90) Anna and her mother were next; they were taken to concentration camps.(137-140) Jakub was the last person she and Bubbe saw before they tried to escape from Lodz to Germany.(154-156) Chana and Bubbe escaped Lodz only to be jailed, tortured and sent to concentration camps. Only a strong willed person could mentally and emotionally endure such tragedy and horror as Chana did.
Chana’s character was also very caring and compassionate towards
others. Although she was miserable in the concentration camps, she was
respectful towards the other inmates.(220-221, Another example of this was
when she was living in the ghetto with the Krengiels’. It took all her
strength to be nice to them, and inspite of her kindness, they were hostile to
Chana and her family.(80-83)
A noticeable trait shown in Chana as her character developed
throughout the book was her religious and spiritual self. In the beginning it
was only her grandmother, Bubbe who had total faith in God, and who tried
to encourage Chana to have faith also. Chana did not believe Bubbe, she
thought that God was not on her side and that he was nowhere.(34,196) She
resented God until she looked into the eyes of her shvester and then “felt
ashamed of her anger with God”.(236) Towards the end of the book she prays to make Matel well.(253) Next she puts on a Jewish ritual ceremony to “thank God officially”, by the request of Matel.(254) This shows that Chana’s faith in God had developed throughout the book during a time of crisis.
A major problem Chana faced was survival. She dealt with the
struggle for food each day and torture and hard labor in the concentration
camps. Chana’s family dealt with the struggle for food each day by working
as hard as they could. While in the concentration camps Chana was tortured
and forced to work. She couldn’t just rebel because the camp officials
would harm her more.
Another great conflict Chana had to deal with is the ghetto life. She
lived where it was very crowded and often needed a way out. She solved
this problem by hiding in a hole of the roof of the House of Culture and
listening to music. She often thought of escaping and running away and
suggested to her family that they should hide in the House of Culture, but
Bubbe decided to take Jakub’s advice and get fake papers and go to
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If I was faced with Chana’s problems I would’ve done some things the
same as she did, but some different. Regarding the struggle for food, I
would’ve brought things that are very valuable and rare like coffee and
cigarettes to trade for food. If worse came to worse, I would have sold the
violin for food. With the problem of survival in the Concentration camp, I
would’ve tried to make friends with alot of people in the concentration camp
because like Dvora, if one of them became an assistant to someone important, they could have pull into putting me somewhere else where the work and torture are less. If I had to make the decision whether to run away from the ghetto life, I would’ve done the same as Chana and Bubbe, but I would’ve hid while in public places so I wouldn’t be as noticeable to people. Overall Chana made good decisions considering the atmosphere she was living in most the time.