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Touch Wood Essay, Research Paper

Touch Wood by Ren e Roth-Hano |Touch WoodX is based on the author+s own life when she was growing asa Jewish girl during the German invasion of France. In 1940, Ren e andher family were living in Alsace, France, where nothing ever changed. Noone expected anything unusual to happen. Then one day, a war withGermany is announced on the radio. The Germans wanted to annex Alsaceand forced the Jews to leave. France was split into two zones- the FreeZone and the German occupied zone. Ren e+s father chose for them to moveto Paris, because it is a big city where he can find work, and alsobecause Ren e+s mother has childhood friends there. So, Ren e, herparents, her two younger sisters, and their blind grandmother move intoa crowded apartment in the German-occupied zone. Ren e was disappointed in Paris when she arrived. She finds thateverything seems to be smaller in Paris. Eventually, her newneighborhood becomes more of a home and helps Ren e to miss Alsace alittle less. Ren e+s parents had left Poland and then Hungary to find a freer,better life. They settled in France and thought they+d be safe. ThenAdolf Hitler, a German man who hated Jewish people, started trouble allover again. First, seven synagogues were blown up. Then, the Germanscreated a curfew prohibiting Jews to go during certain hours. Any Jewcaught in the street after curfew would be taken as hostage. Also, allJewish people must wear a Star of David on their shirts. An ordinance iscreated requiring all Jewish firms to be registered. Then the Jewish areforbidden to go to most public places, and they are only allowed an hourto grocery shop. Suddenly, their family+s Jewish neighbors are being taken away one byone. Ren e+s family becomes fearful. At one point, they have to hidefrom the police. Ren e+s parents decide to take action. They havefriends who know Mother Superior. They send Ren e and her sisters to aCatholic residence in Normandy until the war is over. Their fatheremphasizes for them not to tell anyone that they are Jewish. When theyarrive in Normandy, they find a cozy bedroom, appetizing meals, andfriendly people. Ren e has to deal with a nosy housekeeper, who couldpossibly uncover their secret. Ren e and her sisters love their new

school, which is much more spacious and modern than the one in Paris. Ren e+s main concern is confusion over her religious identity. Theymust convert to Catholicism to perfect their disguise. Their parentshave given permission for Ren e and her sisters to be baptized and totake their first communion. They decide to pray to the Catholic god tomake the war end soon, to help the French and their Allies win the war,and to protect the Jews. Ren e becomes worried when she hears about the bombing of Paris, butshe was relieved to hear that her parents were not affected. Then thirtyyoung girls come from Paris to live in the residency where MotherSuperior feels they will enjoy the fresh air and will be able to eatbetter than they did in Paris. Ren e+s life during the war was full of illnesses. First, her sistersand her suffer from scabies, a contagious disease that their doctor sayshe+s only seen in animals. When their mother comes to visit them, shemust cut Ren e+s hair because of the nits in it. Then Ren e is sick inbed for a month with jaundice. It was a miracle that she recovered fromit. Because her body wasn+t very resistant after recovering fromjaundice, Ren e became infected with impetigo. Somehow she managed toovercome all of her illnesses. In 1944, the wine market being used by the Germans to store ammunitionis bombed by the Allies. The fire spreads to several surrounding houses.Then the residence where they are living is bombed. They must flee theirhome. A farmer volunteers for them to live in his barn until they aresafe. German soldiers are very close to the barn, for they can hear thetroops singing. The bombshells are coming from the Germans, who refuseto surrender, and from the Allies, who continue to advance. Then two English Allies parachute down to them, reassuring them thatthe rest of the troop is on the way. A few days later, Ren e and some ofthe people who are staying with them go to see what the circumstancesare. They arrive in time to see that the Germans are surrendering. Ren e and her sisters manage to get a ride back to their home in Parisfrom a Red Cross car. They arrive home, much to their parent+s surprise.Ren e becomes very concerned if she is Catholic anymore. Her parents arevery glad to see her and her sisters. Ren e is changed forever by herwartime experiences.


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