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March 24, 2009

Dawid Sierakowiak's Journals - Dissecting Non-Fiction with the Tools for Analyzing Fiction

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24 March 2009

ENG 340 Students,

Re: the class activity we did (in groups) at our last meeting, please summarize your points about the elements of structure (in about a paragraph), according to Edgar V. Roberts, in the non-fiction text of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak below. . .

. . . Don't forget to discuss the difficulties in applying standard formalist theory like this (intended for fiction) to non-fiction works such as journals often included in literature reading lists.

Because I'm asking you to do this, you don't need to do your "responses to the responses" activity you normally do for Dawid Sierakowiak. You do still need to do your normal reading response however to the text. Don't put that here--put that in the other entry about Dawid Sierakowiak. This entry is only for the group activity.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Best wishes,

Dr. Hobbs


More in-depth (and emotion-driven) student responses to The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak can be found HERE

To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Holocaust Studies, please click HERE

Posted by lhobbs at March 24, 2009 09:01 PM

Readers' Comments:

From Dr. Hobbs:

28 February 2007


Great work in the class group activity today! Some feedback: do you prefer this "circle of power" technique, or do you prefer the way we were doing things before? Feel free to "vote" (like on Pop Idol) by leaving your opinion below.

Your assignment (due Friday) is:

Look at the handout we used today in class (reprinted below). Write a short answer (2-3 paragraphs) to any of the questions listed EXCEPT for the one your group discussed today. In other words, pick a different question to answer than the one you answered in class today. Leave your answer in the comment box of this entry (below) by classtime Friday.

Groupwork Activity Handout

*(Groups 1 and 7) Conflict and Dilemma (Roberts 93-95): We should already know that one of the primary conflicts in Dawid’s story is the Holocaust/Nazi occupation/oppression itself. On a more personal level, identify the various “minor” conflicts found in Dawid’s life and narrative as expressed in the texts. For example, Marty McFly, in Back to the Future III, has to fix the past and then get back to his own time in the future. But, along the way, he also has to confront his own inability to back down from a challenge.

*(Groups 2 and 8) Structure and Exposition (Roberts 99): Where are the primary “twists and turns” in Dawid’s narrative? Identify the major “turning points” in the story so far. For example, everything is going fine for Superman’s plan to save the world from itself until one day Lois Lane is kidnapped by Lex Luthor. During the rescue, he learns that he has a son. Later, when it looks like he is going to win the day, Luthor defeats him (for a while), and so on.

*(Groups 3 and 9) Structure and Complication (Roberts 99): We know that Dawid is the primary protagonist of his own journals. But who are the various antagonists in his life/narrative? Identify as many antagonists as you can. When compared to Dawid, what might these various antagonists represent? For example, if Frodo Baggins/Luke Skywalker represent “selflessness,” can one of the antagonists, e.g. Gollum/Darth Vader represent “selfishness?” Look at the examples of binary opposites listed in WAL and see what you can find. Can you think of other polarities (exact opposites)?

*(Groups 4 and 10) – Structure and Crisis (Roberts 99): The crisis is where the most important “conflict” in the story reaches its “worst” or the point of bursting! (see question about conflict above) For example, the “hero” is wounded, his legs are broken and if the Bad Guy gets the magic ring/secret plans, etc. all will be doomed. Our hero could hand it over, or jump into the pit of fire to save the world (by killing himself) or . . . ? Get the picture? Identify either a crisis (or) the crisis in Dawid’s story so far.

*(Groups 5 and 11) – Structure and Climax (Roberts 99): This group will also have to find the crisis so that they can find the “climax” which what happens immediately after (see question just before). The climax is how the crisis is resolved. For instance, it looks like Rocky/Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker, etc. are going to lose the big battle/showdown with the Primary Meanie but, just at the last minute, he thinks of his dear old mom and gets inspired, or he remembers the magic word that the bad guy just hates, or something unexpected happens like the bad guy’s henchman pushes him into a vat of acid/lake of fire/the vacuum of outer-space, etc. A decision has been made, an action has been taken: for better or worse, the crisis is now over. Nothing more interesting than this climax is really left in the story! Find either a climax (or) the climax of Dawid’s narrative. If you can’t find the climax in DDS (since we haven’t finished it yet) go for the climax in Richard Adam’s Watership Down.

*(Groups 6 and 12) – Structure and Resolution (Roberts 100): This discusses how everything works out after the story’s climax (see question just before). Again, you’ll have to know the crisis AND climax in the story to figure this out. Identify and explain the resolution of the crisis (that which follows the crisis’s climax) in DDS. Since we haven’t officially read the end of DDS yet (maybe it comes BEFORE the end) be prepared to discuss the resolution of Watership Down’s crisis too.

SAs today: Our two Erikas. You two are exempt from this assignment.

As a final word, let me take the opportunity--ONCE AGAIN--to remind those of you of the procedure for when you are absent. If problems with absences do NOT apply to you, then ignore the following:

Remember the first day of class (and the second and the third, etc.)? What have I asked you to do when you are absent? Contact your buddies on your buddy list! Find out what you missed what was assigned, etc. so you are NOT left behind. If you are absent, you need to understand that an absence (whether excused, or not) is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card for whatever assignments were done in class or due. An e-mail exchange with me is NOT a substitute for finding out what you have to do or a sign that you are "off the hook" for the assignment.

Buddies absent too or unavailable? What is your other recourse? Does the campus P:drive space ring a bell? All lectures used in class, class handouts or group activities and even copies of the group messages I send to the whole class at once are on there, our class space. If you are absent, this is the place to go to find out what you missed.

Finally, anyone remember the e-mail policy listed clearly on our syllabus? The policy is to check your IUP e-mail AT LEAST once per day. I do, on occasion, send group messages to the class. This is also a place to check for things you missed, if you were absent. Oh, and if this wasn't enough, there is of course, the English-blog, where I usually bring up the highlights from class (like here).

I really hate to lecture like this but please remind yourselves that you are all grown people in college (not high school) by "choice," I might remind you. Please don't expect hand-holding. All students in this course will be held to the same standard (no one is "more" special than another).

Alright, I hope that's the last time I have to bring that up! Let's concentrate now on moving forward with the class now. 99% of you are simply doing a wonderful job in the course so far. It is no lie that this is a very demanding course and those of you who are perfecting every single assignment I give you are truly proving that it IS possible to meet the expectations of a challenge. Bravo!


Lyndsay Krall
English 121
Instructor Lee Hobbs

For the group work activity I was in group 11. My group was responsible for the structure and climax of the story. I will now answer Group 4 and 10- which is structure and crisis. Although there are more than one presented in this story, I am choosing the crisis of when Dawid’s mother is taken and sent away. I feel that this is the most important “conflict” in the story. This was what seemed to be the breaking point for Dawid and when the story peaked at its worst. Throughout the entire story, Dawid was faced with many hardships such as starvation, disease, and illness, but he tried to be optimistic when it came to his current situation. Even when his father, the man who is supposed to protect Dawid and the rest of his family, betrays Dawid by cheating the family of their food rations, Dawid remains to not let it bother him too much and tries to look past it all. But when Dawid’s mother is taken away, it seems as if Dawid doesn’t know how to deal with this situation. This is what seems to be the last straw in Dawid’s mind. After his mother is taken away, out of all the wrong doings that his father has done, this is what finally causes Dawid to confront his father and to get into an argument with him. This in my mind was what represented that this was truly a “crisis” in Dawid’s life.

Posted by: Lyndsay Krall at February 28, 2007 11:12 PM

I chose the question on structure and complication to do.

Antagonists in Dawid's life include the war, hunger, scabies, malnutrition, Romkowski and his father among many things those in the ghettos were plagued with. The hunger and malnutrition represent a road block for Dawid for employment. If he was weak (and he was often), he couldn't perform well at the job. Scabies was just one of the health conditions he came down with that was more so an annoyance than a real, concrete problem. Dawid's greedy father is an antagonist and represents, it seems through Dawid's words, what he resents. He is obviously angry at his father and he is only hurting him, too, by taking food he could be eating. The war and Rumkowski are obvious antagonists because if it weren't for the war, Dawid wouldn't be in the situation. Rumkowski is like the war in a human body. He delivers the bad news and rules.

Opposites of this could be hope Dawid receives from fighting. He's outlasting others, including his mother and siblings, and that may have sparked some optimism in him to keep him fighting longer.

Posted by: Kendra Sledzinski at March 1, 2007 12:57 AM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

I was an SA for Wednesday's Class!


Posted by: Erika Knox at March 1, 2007 10:26 AM

1 March 2007
Professor Hobbs-

From Dawid’s journal entries it is clear to the reader that he is the protagonist of the story. As he experiences the trials and hardships of the war, he comes across many obstacles and encounters numerous antagonists that complicate his life. Of these antagonists some that are very obvious and stick out would be Dawid’s father, Rumkowski, Hitler/Nazis, and Dawid himself.
Dawid’s father is the biggest conflicting charater we see Dawid go up against as his father represents selfishness and greed. As his father becomes more and more inconsiderate, Dawid becomes more aware of the responsibilities he has to help support his mother, sister, and himself. Rumkowski is also a character who creates problems for Dawid as he represents the oppression that Dawid is faced with. As the rations are set and curfews enforced, Dawid faces the hardships of living in the ghetto and the difficulties that arise from the rules and regulations set by the mayor. Hitler and the Nazis are also an antagonist as they show the hatred and cruelty towards Dawid and his people. All of the fear and intimidation set by the bad guys create the anxiety that Dawid has to live with everyday. It is because of Hitler and his ideas that Dawid is in such a hard lifestyle and is the main reason for his struggles. Besides the other characters, Dawid himself sort of becomes an antagonist. His unhappiness and dark side shows the internal struggle he has to deal with and the battle to find the courage to carry on. As he faces feelings of hopelessness and anger, his subconscious is an opposing force that he has to battle as he tries to remain optimistic and hopeful for survival.
Each of the antagonistic characters has an impact on Dawid’s mood and actions. As each character plays their role in his life, he shows a reaction to the events and it is easy o see how each factor changes him during his experience. Each of the antagonists mentioned represents a part of his life that he has to fight with. Still, there are many more opposing forces and antagonists that also play a part in his story as well.

Bettina Herold
ENGL121.003 Hum. Lit. MWF 1145-1245

Posted by: Bettina Herold at March 1, 2007 10:27 AM

Dr. Lee Hobbs

In class today we were asked to answer a certain question with in our group and then go home for homework and do another question. In class I was apart of group three but for the homework I chose to do the question that groups 2 and 8 discussed in class. This dealt with structure and exposition. This question asks; where are the primary twists and turns in Dawid’s narrative? Identify the major turning points in the story so far.

In the Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak there are many different primary twists and turns. First of all the entire diary is rising the whole time. Two major twists and turns are when Dawid’s mother dies, and his father becomes very selfish with the sharing of food and other belongings. Dawid also has a toothache in the story that has a twist in the story, because while he has the toothache he doesn’t really want to do anything but sleep and lay around because the pain is that bad. Not being able to escape the surroundings and what is happening to them as a whole is a twist within the story as well. The break out of Tuberculosis had an affect on the people within the ghetto and everywhere around as well. The last primary turn or twist that I found was when Dawid wasn’t allowed to attend school. Dawid wanted to attended school about when he was around the age of 18 but was rejected and not allowed to attend. These are the primary twists and turns that I found within the Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak.

until next class

Posted by: Brooke Decker at March 1, 2007 12:00 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I will be answering the question to number three concerning the crisis of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. First off, a crisis is the turning point of events. The crisis may go from the most important conflict in the story to the worst point. I believe one example of a crisis in The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak would be the starvation factor. Starvation has taken over everyone’s daily activities in the story. People are unable to properly function, which is causing them to die at such at high rate. The whole story can be based off of a few crisis’s but I believe hunger and starvation play a major role in why people are slowly dieing.

In the story David and his family are faced with hunger issues. The food supply shifts from good to bad in the beginning, but as we go further into the novel the situation dramatically becomes worse. By the middle of the story, David’s father has become such a disgrace to the family. He begins stealing rations of food from his family, rather than being the father figure that he should be. He begins mistreating his wife and children by neglecting them and stealing their own food. David’s father becomes ill but then recovers quickly, however he refuses to go look for a job to support his family. His stubbornness has led the family into great trouble because of his actions. He stays at home cooking all day from the rations that his wife and kids earned. His personality has changed completely from the issue of hunger. He went from being a father figure in the beginning and now to a stranger to the family.

I believe that starvation is one of the major crisis’s because the demand for food is at an all time high for these people. Before the war they were used to eating the normal portions of meal per day, but now the shortage of food keeps getting worse and worse and more people are dying. This crisis has ultimately led many people, such as David’s father, to go to extreme measures just to try and survive. The starvation issues has started to guide people in ways which they would normally not act.

April H.

Posted by: April Hunsberger at March 1, 2007 01:31 PM

I was the SA today.

Posted by: Erika G. at March 1, 2007 02:24 PM

Lauren Wozniak
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121
March 2, 2007

Group work Activity

*(Groups 1 and 7) Conflict and Dilemma

Throughout the novel The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak it is apparent that Dawid struggles through a variety of different situations. First, he is living in the ghetto. Second, he is starving and his family no longer has enough cash to buy food. Third, his family is becoming weak, and being separated from one another. These are only a few of the trials and tribulations that Dawid and family had to go through.
One major conflict/dilemma that Dawid has to overcome is the greediness of his father. In most households, the father is a figure who someone looks up to and respects, a role model. In this case, Dawid the younger son has to take the place of his father and keep his family together. Dawid’s father is taking the money that his wife and son have worked so hard for and spending it on food. The food he is buying with their hard earned money is not for the whole family, but instead himself. This is starting to become an issue in the Sierakowiak household. Since there is not enough food to ration around the household, and the father is eating it all himself, the mother is becoming very weak. It is apparent to everyone that she can no longer function and most importantly work. Therefore, she is being deported. This tears Dawid apart, and he becomes angry at his father. Dawid’s father’s greediness causes Dawid to argue with his father which then creates a dilemma.
Dawid’s father needs to stop putting himself in front of his family, and realize that they are one. If they want to get out of the ghetto and most importantly survive they need to stick together. Unfortunately, Dawid who is younger and less immature has to step up and take the father figure position of the household. This forces Dawid to grow and mature quickly. He now has more responsibility and more weighing on his shoulders.

Posted by: Lauren Wozniak at March 1, 2007 03:03 PM

Jenny Troutman
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
Homework Assignment

Dear Professor Hobbs,

First of all, I would like to mention that I really enjoyed doing the circle of discussion because it really got everyone involved. Plus everyone got to see each other face to face and we really contacted with each other. I think we should that again sometime.

As for the group activity, I chose to do the Crisis from the Groups 4 and 10. There are many crisis in Dawid's diary. One in particular is that when everyone goes through starvation. When Dawid mention about the day that when they ran out of bread. It drove the ghetto insane because they know that they need food to survive. Starvation led into Malnutrition and many people from the Holocaust died from that disease. In the ghetto, there were bodies that were so tiny and fragile that they could easily break.

Throughout starvation, Dawid's dad gather all the food in the household and eats it all to himself without having any for his family. With having Dawid's dad doing that, it led his family to starvation and weak. Now, his mom is almost nearly dead, Dawid is getting weaker, and as for his sister, Dawid doesn't mention much about her.

As throughout the ghetto, starvation has been one of the leading causes of death from the Holocaust.

Posted by: Jenny Troutman at March 1, 2007 03:39 PM

Structure and Crisis

Crisis is where the most important conflict in the story reaches its breaking point. Dawid has a hard life, that’s obvious, but he tries so hard to make it better. He keeps busy with numerous jobs and school work. He is very intelligent and loves school so that keeps him occupied. He never seems to get a break. he finally will get a job that you think is good and that maybe his life will turn around, then the food rations go down or more Jews are deported in, he is just in a no win situation it seems. There are a lot of conflicts that occur in this story that could be titled the worst of them all but I think that the biggest crisis or conflict in the story is when Dawid’s father decides to like pretty much fend for himself and not really care much about his family. He starts to become really sneaky with the food rations. You think Dawid’s father would look out for his family and try to help them survive as well especially with his mother being so ill, but he doesn’t. But, can you blame him in this situation? I mean so many people are dieing everyday and in this situation you might just have to look out for yourself, even if it does goes against your morals. Yes, he is the father of a family, his wife is deathly ill, and his kids are starving, but I think that he is trying to think about what is best in the long run. I think he wants to give his family all that he can, but just now he can’t give them what they need. It is obviously hard for both Dawid’s father and the family because there is not much communication between them. I feel that by what Dawid’s father is doing though is hurting there family and is a main crisis in the story. It is hard to agree with what he is doing because his children are so young and his wife is so ill but you have to look at this situation both ways. It is really all about who wants to live the most. You have to think to yourself, what would you want to happen in this situation?

Lorin Gdula

Posted by: Lorin Gdula at March 1, 2007 04:55 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I will be discussing examples of structure and complication from the Dawid Sierakowiak text (question for groups 3&9).

Complication is the onset and development of the major conflict. Complication discusses the relationship between the protagonist and antagonists in the story and what types of characteristics each of them represent and bring out in one another.

Dawid discusses various antagonists within his documentary. I think the most obvious antagonist would be the Nazi’s, since they are the culprits for his life in the ghetto. During Dawid’s life in the ghetto; however, it seems that starvation is one of the biggest antagonists. Waiting for food rations seems to keep him going from day to day, but starvation is killing Jews each and every day. In almost every journal article he mentions something about food. I also see his father as an antagonist. Dawid’s father has been greedy and selfish; he has been taking more than his ration of food and looking out for himself only. I find this ironic because it seems like Dawid cares more about his mother and sister, and Dawid and his father have had a role reversal. This shows a lot about Dawid’s character, and I think it is important that we acknowledge how mature and unselfish he is for his age. Rumkowski can be seen as an antagonist because he has been a strict leader for the ghetto, but I haven’t decided whether or not he is. He has a difficult job to do and I don’t know what I would do in his situation. When Greiser came to inspect the ghetto he was said to be impressed, and a lot of that credit had to be given to Rumkowski.

Jen N.
English 121.003 MWF 11:45-12:45

Posted by: Jen Naugle at March 1, 2007 05:15 PM

Structure and Crisis

Problem: Find the crisis in The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, at least up to this point in the story.

The crisis in structure is where the most important conflict of the story is at its worst. I think the crisis of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak up this point in the story is the point where Dawid’s mother is taken away to be deported. Dawid is going through the conflict of keeping his mother alive by getting her jobs. By having a job you are able to live in the ghetto and not be transported out. He uses up all his energy to find a place for her to work so that she can stay with her family.
Dawid also often shares part of his meals with his mother since his father takes part of her portion almost every meal. All of them are starving, but due to Dawid’s close relationship with his mother he wants to help her. The reason I think this is the crisis is because this where Dawid loses his mother. If I had no mother I would be lost, it’s like losing part of you. Dawid is very close to his mother, where as he is at conflict with his father therefore Dawid really has no one to turn to anymore for help.

Katie Kovac
English 121.003

Posted by: Katie Kovac at March 1, 2007 07:06 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Complication is the onset and development of the major conflict. In the story, “The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak.” there are many people who could be considered his antagonist, or someone working against him. Personally, two names come to mind. One being the mayor of the Lodz Ghetto- Rumkowski, and the other, his own Father. Both men are evil in their own right.
Obviously Rumkowski doesn’t care about the people in his ghetto. He announces small rations that will be given to the many weak and starving jews of the Lodz Ghetto. A mayor’s duties today are to have his people survive and live healthy and prosperous lives, it is proven throughout the story that this is not the case with Rumkowski.
A father is supposed to put his family before himself and support them as much as he can. Dawids father is greedy and chooses to feed himself, taking more food than the other members of the Sierakowiak family. He doesn’t seem to care that his wife is becoming weaker and weaker everyday, and it doesn’t make sense that his son, Dawid, brings home more than he does to support the family, yet the father hoards all the money for himself and doesn’t want to give anyone else money for anything. That is not the definition of a loving father!

Tina W

Posted by: Tina W at March 1, 2007 07:14 PM

Professor Hobbs,
I chose to do groups 3's question in figuring out who are some of the antagonist of the story?
There are alot of antagonist in the story. One that I really think is an active opponent is the war. I think that the holocaust and the Germans are the prime antagonist because they are the reason that the book is being written. If it wasnt for their evil ways there would be no insight on David's positive nature.
Another one that I think is an antagonist is his father, only because of his ignoracne to the situation and the lack of leading as a man. He forces David to take on that role. Which bring out more of Davids protagonist characteristics.

Posted by: Donnetta at March 1, 2007 07:51 PM

Andy Hood
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
1 March 2007
I was in group five on Friday, and we were assigned to figure out what the climax in the book was. However, in order to find the climax, one must figure out what the crisis is in the story. The crisis is the major conflict in a story. What’s going on in the story? The crisis is the part of the story that stirs things up, and then it must be resolved. A story is not limited to one crisis though; there can be many throughout the story.
In The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, it is possible that one might divide the story up and come up with multiple crisis situations. Looking at the book as a whole though, I feel the major crisis is the bulk of the problems Dawid and his family are going through in the ghetto. His mother is becoming very weak and is constantly in danger of being deported. Dawid’s father is turning into a jerk, and Dawid is forced to play the part of the father-figure who looks out for his family as well as his own interests. The hunger in the ghetto is increasing, and the food is depleting. Resources to stay alive are becoming very scarce, and Dawid’s family can see death approaching.

Posted by: Andy Hood at March 1, 2007 08:00 PM

I will be answering the question for groups 1 and 7. A minor conflict in the story was his father. He was a very greedy man during this time. He was hungry and decided that he had to fend for himself if he wanted to survive. One would think that a parent would be more concerned for their children's safety than their own, but it isn't like that in this case.

Posted by: Erin Rock at March 1, 2007 09:28 PM

Dr Professor Hobbs,
Dawid is a young man who is going through a very troublesome time in his life. It seems that Dawid tries to stay optimistic about this whole situation ,but every time he turns around there is a new problem that he have to face. Things are going wrong in all aspects in such as his social life,his family life and dealing with his eduaction.
Dawid and the people in his community is probably going through the worste times in life. Most people probably going through the worste time in their life. To stay strong in a situation like this I believe family should stick together,but Dawid's father was being mean and nasty.Yes Dawid and his mother was close but Dawid still had to see his mother suffering because she was sick and she looked very bad.Dawid and his family was not getting enough food and his father was taking food from them and eating for himself.Dawid loves going to school and he force to stop going to school and to get a job. When Dawid did gets a job it causes conflict between him and his father because Dawid is getting more than his father. Dawid represent being a team player because he looks out for his family and his father only looks out for himself. All the things I listed was antagonist in Dawid's life.
Sincerely ,
Melisa Parsons

Posted by: Melisa Parsons at March 1, 2007 09:35 PM

Dear Lee Hobbs,

In Dawid diary readers are able to decipher the antagonist characters in Sierakowiak life. The complication that arises between Dawid and these characters symbolize importance factors that are meaningful in Sierkowiak life. Some of the antagonist characters in Sierkiwiak life are the principle, and his father. Both of these characters are holding something that Dawid truly desires, which includes his dreams and survival.
For example, at the beginning to the story Dawid was informed that all school students who did not pay a certain amount of income would be expelled from school. Becoming educated and learning new information was important for Dawid. As a result, he went to visit the principle of the school, to try and resolve the situation. The visit obviously did not settle the complication as Dawid had planned. This is noticeable is one of Dawid diary entries, which was on Wednesday, October 11, 1939. Sierakowiak stated, “He expelled us, anyway! I don’t know whether he always acts like this, but he behaved really brutally” (Adelson 51). With this information presented, one can confirm that the principle was an antagonist character in Dawid’s life. The principle helped enforce this situation and showed no sympathy for the students that were no longer able to attend school. This was a difficult situation for Dawid, because he enjoys learning and wants the best education he is able to obtain.
Another antagonist character that is in Dawid Sierowiak life is his father. Towards the end of the story the relation between Dawid and his father grows tense. Sierowiak is angry at his father because he fails to feed and take care of the family. He also is aggravated because his father fails to maintain a job. His feelings and emotions are noticeable in the diary entry posted on Sunday, November 15. He states, “Relations at home have again become tense. Father has decided to cook only for himself. After all, he says, we have our soup at work” (Adelson 230). This shows that his father is depriving his family from food to benefit himself for survival. This creates conflict between Dawid and his father, which is noticeable throughout the story.

Posted by: Sheryll Daugherty at March 1, 2007 09:55 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In the compiled journals of Dawid Sierakowiak, there are several antagonists that add to the daily struggles of his life. One obvious antagonist in his life is definitely Hitler and the German army (Nazi’s). This group of people chose to be against everything that Dawid believes in, including his religion and governmental beliefs. This antagonist is very influential on Dawid’s life. The German Nazis have taken away food and freedom that the Jewish population, and several others, had in Poland.
Another antagonist in Dawid’s life is his very own father. In the beginning of the journals Dawid slightly hints towards his father being an antagonist in his life. Amidst the starvation and poverty in the ghetto, one would think that a family would stick together and that especially the parents would do all that they could to support their children’s hunger needs. Later on in the journals Dawid reveals that his father is a somewhat selfish man. Dawid, trying his utmost to be selfless in his family, is learning to take the role of the man of the house. His father complains of being cheated out on rations within the house and ultimately ends up with more food than the other family members. The roles are slightly reversing between Dawid and his father. The son, in this case, is giving up food for his greedy father. This is an antagonist to Dawid in his life because he is not getting the support he needs from his father.

Stephanie Vrabel

Posted by: Stephanie Vrabel at March 1, 2007 10:04 PM

Greg Crossland
Eng 121
Lee Hobbs

Conflict and Dilemma

Dawid’s young and tumultuous life is full of conflict and dilemma. The obvious conflict in his life is between the Nazi regime and the occupied Jews, which they dictate over. A personal conflict of Dawid’s, which becomes a main theme later in the notebooks, is between him and his father. Dawid’s father, who becomes paranoid of his own family, is stealing rations that are meant for every one. Dawid also has the conflict of superior male figure between him and his father. Dawid’s tries to protect and provide for his family while his father starts to only care for himself. Another large conflict that is throughout the entire occupation is Dawid’s fight with hunger. The small rations he receives do not cover the allotted days. He speaks of how he eats his bread ration and goes with out much for the rest of the period. An additional conflict is between Dawid and the many disease/ illnesses that he staves off throughout the book. Dawid is constantly fighting a fever and unfortunately his life is finally taken by the tuberculosis that he witnesses many others get.

Posted by: Greg Crossland at March 1, 2007 10:11 PM

Professor Hobbs,
I originally was in group six on Friday, so I have chosen to write about question one instead for the assignment. I feel that there are a lot of important conflicts in the story that add a lot to understanding not only the holocaust but “ghetto life” as well.
I believe the underlying problem that Dawid is faced with is his family life. His mom is almost dead from starving so badly and his dad is not concerned with anyone but himself. Dawid is very close to his mom that watching her suffer is a hard enough thing for him to bear. However, Dawid’s father is not making the situation any easier on anyone. Dawid’s father creates a lot of unneeded problems for Dawid, because he forces Dawid to take over the paternal role for his family by being so irresponsible. Dawid’s dad does not act like a father at all, throughout the entire story Dawid’s dad only looks out for himself. Dawid can not act like a normal seventeen year old boy anymore; he constantly has to look out for the well-being of his family. I admire his strength. I think it is unbelievable that he is able to stay so strong and level-headed, when he is so young and in such horrible physical condition.
Thank you,
Jaime Hersh

Posted by: Jaime Hersh at March 1, 2007 10:28 PM

Professor Hobbs,
The question I chose to answer is :
*(Groups 2 and 8) Structure and Exposition (Roberts 99): Where are the primary “twists and turns” in Dawid’s narrative? Identify the major “turning points” in the story so far.

The major turing points in Dawid's narrative are the points that change his life in a drastic way. Thwe first main turning point is the Nazi invasion. This completely changed his way of life. From the amount of freedom he has to the amount of food he was able to eat was affected by this change. Moving from camp to camp because of German force changes his life.
His mother becoming very ill is another turning point. When his mother was taken away was another major turning point. Food portioning was a turning point that occured more then once. When the Germans took over they changed the amount of food. When hsi mother was taken away then it changed again becuase, his father became very greedy. These are all events and changes in his life that are major turning points.All of these obstacles really make his story what it is.
Carlos Gonzalez
engl. 121.003

Posted by: Carlos R. Gonzalez at March 1, 2007 11:07 PM

Professor Hobbs,
I will be discussing Dawid's Conflicts and Dilemmas.

Some of the conflicts and dilemmas Dawid has had throughout his life have not always been solved. Before we even started to read this book about his life in the Ghetto we knew it would not turn out to be a happy ending. Most of Dawid's conflicts and dilemmas were not having enough food to feed himself or his family, worrying about the nazis and trying to live each day without being shot, beat up, or forced to do labor, and also trying to stay warm and not freeze to death every night.
During the middle of his story his father starts to become selfish by stealing rations from his family. By doing this he made his family, more so, his wife, Dawid's mother more sick and with disease. The roles were kind of switched where Dawid took care of his family and father just took from his family. Dawid had a thirst for knowledge and loved to go to school. Sometimes that privilege was taken away from him so he either stayed at home or worked away the energy he did not have.

Posted by: Kristin Dudra at March 2, 2007 12:36 AM

Dr. Hobbs,
I decided to do the question given to groups 1 and 7. I was in group 10.

Question 1: Identify the various “minor” conflicts found in Dawid’s life and narrative as expressed in the texts.

Besides the overwhelming presence of the Nazi forces, Dawid has another whole stack of worries to process in his daily life. The Nazi troops harangue and persecute the Jewish peoples for their own twisted fun, and in other times even shoot them randomly. Dawid does not personally give an account of where a guard physically hurt him, but he heard about it happening throughout the ghetto. It was an ever-present fear of being stopped by the Germans.
As Dawid strains through day to day life, there are two personal conflicts greater than even the Nazi troops that press upon him; hunger and disease. Dawid’s stomach churns, a burn that never leaves built within it. He forces himself through the actions of his daily life, ignoring the ache (so he can work and try to survive) but yet realizing all too well just how much it affects him. Disease too racks his body to varying degrees. At one point it’s his festering finger, at another, he shows the signs of the mysterious ‘plague’ that picks off people tenaciously (the hourglass face, bloated body, etc). At still another, he has gone past the realm of medicinal help. Partly, this antagonistic disease is brought about by the malnutrition he suffers from.
Last, but certainly not least in Dawid’s ever growing stock pile of conflict ridden events is his own pessimism. It is constantly at war with him. Dawid seems like he wants to believe the rumors of liberation, wants to have hope that the war will be over soon, wants to have an extra spark to bind with his own will to live. However, his pessimism sneaks in the way, blocking such a path. It creates an inner battle of sorts, and Dawid seems to admit he is losing when he dismisses the ghetto’s newest rumors of hope. He does not even get excited anymore. What will be will be is his mantra.

Erin Knisley
ENGL 121.003 MWF

Posted by: Erin K. at March 2, 2007 08:47 AM

Professor Hobbs,

Many conflicts existed in the life of Dawid Sierakowiak. His story takes place during one of the most trying times in world history; just the death toll is an amount, when put in perspective, brings one up short: roughly 52,199,262 people, both military and civilians including Jews and gypsies perished. (O'Brien) If each of those people had a mother, father, and one sibling (not to mention extended family), the total number of people directly affected by death during World War II is 156,597,786. Without first hand knowledge of what adolescence in Poland during the late 1930’s was like, one can gather from Dawid’s journal that most folks his age should be in either gymnasium (secondary school) or lyceum (lecture classes, university maybe?), not working in a leather shop under the jackboot heel of the Nazis. Taking away the issues of invasion, oppression, and subjugation, Dawid deals with conflicts and issues within the artificial community he is forced into: the ghetto, and also within his own family.
During and maybe even prior to the hostilities, Dawid seems to be developing a Marxist view of the world and how things should be: equal distribution of wealth, no special treatment, etc. Within the ghetto some fellow students, including his friend Niutek, with similar interests form a small, secret group to be at the disposal of the ghetto Marxists for any action needed. (107) However, Dawid seems to be more of an intellectual and prone to using the tool of dialogue rather than that of violence to get his ideas across and the thought of giving one hundred percent of his time (or especially his life) to this group seems foolish. (107) At a time when they should be using their brains and people power to figure out what is going on or acquiring resources and creating caches for future use they are squabbling over political issues and what level of “commitment” a member should exhibit; to be fair they couldn’t have known that it would have gotten as bad as it did, but it seems as if someone should have been able to at least get a small inkling of what was happening.
As for his family, the same issue arises: misplaced priorities. Dawid’s father, instead of doing his best to gather additional resources: food, fuel, clothing, money, etc. for his family, he fights for a larger portion of what little they do have and seems to have very little ambition to improve his position. (196) His father might have always been like this or he might have just cracked during the invasion, Dawid doesn’t speak of him much prior to the attacks; but he seems to be running on “autopilot”, having reverted into a shell. With all the misinformation and propaganda that the Nazi PR machine and Goebbels produced it would have been nearly impossible to gather enough about what was going on outside of one’s immediate surroundings. This would have made it incredibly difficult to keep any sense of hope which would make devoting ones life to subversion, or the betterment of their family much, much easier.

O’Brien, Joseph V. “World War II: Combatants and Casualties (1937-45)” 28 February 2007. ">http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~jobrien/index.html

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Alan Adelson, ed. Kamil Turowski, translator. Copyright: Jewish Heritage Project and Kamil Turowski, 1996. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Best Regards,

Justin Bleggi

Posted by: Justin Bleggi at March 2, 2007 08:58 AM

Rebecca Shenkle

Conflict and Dilemma in “The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak”

I believe some of the minor conflicts in Dawid’s story so far are starvation, illness, disease, not being able to go to school, and losing his mother. These conflicts have a huge impact on Dawid’s diaries and are mostly what he writes about. In almost every entry he mentions something about what and how much food he ate for that day. It is always a tiny amount, so obviously this is a huge issue in his life right now.
Another conflict right now in Dawid’s life is his mother being taken away. He is very sad about this because he was closer to his mother than anyone else in his family. This event certainly has made things much harder for Dawid.

Posted by: Rebecca Shenkle at March 2, 2007 09:01 AM

Professor Hobbs
I chose the topic Conflict and Dilemma. Like stated above the major conflict and Dilemma of the whole story is the holocaust, however through out the story there are many other little conflicts that Dawid comes across.
One of these more minor conflicts is the behavior of his father. His father seems to turn more and more selfish by the day by consuming more rations that he was supposed to. This also doesn't only effect the father, Dawid and his sister are growing more hungry and the mother is so weak she turns very sick. It is very possible that this little conflict might turn out to be a huge problem for the family.
There are many other conflicts in the book, for instance, how Dawid was offered a job, and disease is breaking out through the ghetto, and even Dawid's health...i.e. his tooth problem

-nicole novak

Posted by: Nicole Novak at March 2, 2007 09:29 AM

English 121
Professor Hobbs,

Conflict and Dilemma
Although the major conflict in this story is obviously the holocaust, there are also minor conflicts which play a major role in the story. The major minor conflict in this story is between Dawid and his father. His father is supposed to be looking out for his family and trying his best to make them survive, but he’s trying his best to make himself survive and not worrying about the others. Dawid is forced to take over his father’s role in the family and take care of himself and everyone else.
Another conflict is Dawid’s hunger. As I’m sure everyone knows, when you’re hungry it makes it very hard to accomplish anything However, if Dawid and his family wants to survive they have to work as hard as they can with nothing to keep them going but their own will to survive.

Jeff Hoover

Posted by: Jeff Hoover at March 2, 2007 09:52 AM

Shayne Schmidt
Instructor: Lee Hobbs
ENLG 121.003 Humanities Literatures

Conflict and Dilemma

I am choosing conflict and dilemma to write about.

Throughout the story we know food becomes more scare everyday in the ghetto. The feeling of starvation must take one’s mind to the point of caring for no one except you. The dilemma I am choosing is that we know Dawid”s father is stealing more food for himself. Dawid’s conflict with his father is turning into anger and hatred towards him because he is watching his mother die.

The dilemma for Dawid also is that he watches his father take more food but does nothing about it. The anger and hatred grows because it is as if his father really does not care about them. I would think if you where on the point of starvation you would do the same. This minor conflict with his father affects how Dawid must watch his mother suffer even more.

Posted by: Shayne Schmidt at March 2, 2007 10:04 AM

Colin Hough

Instructor Lee Hobbs

ENGL 121.003

2 March 2007

Challenges faced in the Lodz Ghetto: Conflict and Dilemma

In the journals written by Dawid Sierokowiak, it is obvious that he and his family, along with many others, are faced with various overwhelming challenges during the time of the Holocaust. Aside from these awful challenges, the author of the journals, Dawid, faces other minor dilemmas along the way. These challenges can basically be categorized into physical challenges, and emotional or psychological challenges. The physical dilemmas faced throughout the journals thus far are events relating to great hardships experienced that hurt or damaged Dawid’s body. The emotional challenges, obviously, are dilemmas faced that took a toll on Dawid’s mind, conscience, etc.
The first type of challenges faced by Dawid that will be discussed is physical. There are many physical hardships that every Jew was forced to face in every ghetto during the holocaust, but here are a few faced by Dawid himself. In order to support his family, Dawid must at first work long hours distributing rutabagas and potatoes to be rationed. The long hours Dawid was assigned to work through took a large toll on his body. Another important challenge was receiving the correct amount of food and ultimately nutrients. Dawid was especially affected by hunger, as his weight dropped to a meager amount and his food rations were extremely weak. Finally, as readers, we find out early on, through the noting of Dawid’s visit to the doctor, that he has a heart problem.
Aside from the various previously mentioned physical challenges Dawid faces on a regular basis, there are quite a few emotional, or psychological dilemmas that further burden Dawid. First off, it is not definitely spoken of in the journals but there seems to be a great deal of anxiety felt by Dawid simply because of his not knowing what lies in the future for his family and his people. It appears to take a great deal of focus away from Dawid throughout the journals. As the diary progresses, and as Dawid is pushed harder and harder physically with work, school, and the council, despair soon makes an appearance as it pulls down Dawid’s spirits when combined with the plethora of other dilemmas Dawid is experiencing. Finally, towards the end of the journals mostly, there appears to be a growing problem between Dawid and his Father, which can be seen as Dawid is not only insulted greatly by him, but also begins to realize how much his Father had taken from the family in order to further his chances of survival. As one can see, there are many aspects of life that may not be a huge deal compared to the broader spectrum of events, but these dilemmas definitely play a large role in the overall suffering of Dawid according to his journals.

Posted by: Colin Hough at March 2, 2007 10:14 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I was in group 5 on Wed. so I chose the question from groups 4 and 10.

One crisis in the story deals with David’s father and how he is growing more insane, self-centered and greedy as time goes on. David has a decision to make. He comes to a crossroads where he must decide to either to take on more responsibility and become more of the “man in the house”; or to give up and leave everyone to fend for themselves. David nobly decides to take more control and to help his family as much as possible.

Derek Hensley

Posted by: Derek Hensley at March 2, 2007 10:51 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I was in group 2. For homework, I am doing the question that Groups 1 and 7 did. Identifying the minor conflicts found in Dawid’s life and narrative as expressed in the texts.

I think one of the main minor conflicts in Dawid’s life was the conflict with his father. In a family the father is the one who is supposed to keep everything together. His father is stealing food from his own family to suppress his own hunger feeling and letting everyone else go on starving as they have been. To me this is just horrible. I can see exactly why Dawid had so many issues with his father.

Amber Dunmire

Posted by: Amber dunmire at March 2, 2007 12:57 PM


*NOTE* The deadline for this assignment has now passed. Comments are no longer being accepted for this exercise


ATTENTION: More student discussions of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak can be found HERE

Posted by: Lee Hobbs at March 2, 2007 05:33 PM

25 March 2009

Students, please enter your work below this comment.

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at March 27, 2009 02:43 PM

Danielle Dunlevy
March 27, 2009
Dr. Hobbs
English 340

My group had the crisis part of the stories and we believed that the crisis was lack of food. If starving wasn't a factor, the father would not have stolen, Dawid would not have had to be the man of the family, and he would not have had to take care of his mother when she was sick. If none of this happened, he might have had a completely different life. Dawid seemed to live for what he did and how he did it. He always wanted to work and always was proud of his education. Although he should not have had to take care of the family, it seems like something he would not contest. Its in his personality.

Posted by: Danielle Dunlevy at March 27, 2009 04:16 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
31 March 2009
Dissecting Dawid Sierakowiak
4) Structure and Crisis
A literary crisis is where the conflict is at its height. Usually at this point a decision is made which leads to the resolution. The climax typically follows the crisis which is then followed by the resolution.
I feel that the crisis in this book is Dawid’s hunger and starvation. While this is a general and broad conflict, I chose it because it permeates the entire journal and affects Dawid’s everyday living, actions, and choices. I believe that has the journal progresses his struggling gets progressively worse which increases the severity of his conflicts; therefore, his starvation and hunger is his greatest crisis. I also chose this because it leads to the resolution which I marked as his death because it is at this point where all his suffering and personal conflicts ends.
Some pages that exemplify this are 112, 147, and 231 but it is most certainly not limited to these pages they are just some examples.

As for applying the formalist theory to a non-fiction work such as Dawid’s journal, I think it is more difficult because someone’s everyday life does not necessary transgress as a fictional story would; especially in this case because we are missing aspects of his life due to the absence of a journal. However, I did find it interesting because with English, it can be manipulated and stretched to fit different needs and it allows you to discover new aspects of a text that you did not find before.

Posted by: Sarah T. at March 30, 2009 12:01 AM

In the Group I was in, we had to distinguish the structure and climax of "The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak". The climax is immediately after the crisis, distinguishing how the crisis is resolved. Our group viewed over the book and came to an agreement that is extremely difficult to find one precise climax as this diary has day to day crisis happening. We came up with a general crisis by stating that Dawid's constant state of hope is always challenged. Towards the end of the book, there are sections that show how his eternal hope is demolished by the hatred and torment that occurred around Dawid constantly. There are two passages that proves this point. On age 222, Dawid states, "Laments and shouts, cries and screams have become so commonplace that one pays almost no attention to them. What do I care about another mother's cry when my own mother has been taken from me!? I don't think there can be ample revenge for this" (Sierakowiak 222). Another passage showing Dawid's loss of hope is "We are completely ignorant about events going outside the ghetto, dejected about our satanic misfortunes, and we are falling deeper and deeper into black despair and disbelief. There are no prospects for the better, many for the worse" (Sierakowiak 244). In these passages, Dawid's eternal hope for the better has now been demolished into utter and inevitable loss of hope. This was our conclusion for the climax for "The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak".

Posted by: Emily Belvo at March 30, 2009 06:32 PM

I went over the structure and exposition of this piece. What I could make out of this is basically try and pick out the twists and turns of the narrative, and point out some of the major turing points in the story. This was extremely difficult because nonfiction isn't exactly a formulaic story that has set conflicts and twsts and protagonists and so on.
What i figured out is that Hitler coming into office obviously sets things into motion, then once the war starts and Dawid gets sent into the ghetto is when things go downhill for Dawid especially. As the story goes on, the most significant occurances that point out when things get worse and worse is when the food rations are continously depleating.

Posted by: J.Merrigan at March 30, 2009 09:22 PM

Jessica P.
ENG 340
Dr. Hobbs

The Climax of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak

According to Edgar Roberts in his book, Writing About Literature, the climax of a story is the conclusion of the conflict. Further, it is the point of the story where no major events develop further. Pinpointing the climax in The Diary of Dawid of Sierakowiak is difficult as it takes the form of journalistic writing. However, generally the climax of this book can be found at the point where Dawid loses hope. In the beginning of the book, although his living situation was continually worsening, Dawid was always optimistic and found hope in some way. However, readers find the climax in journal entry for Friday, January 1, 1943, as Dawid’s entry shows his complete loss of motivation and hope of life. Soon afterwards, this loss of hope and will to live ends his life.

It is difficult to pinpoint the climax, because non-fiction works have different structure than fiction works. Thus, applying standard formalist theory to non-fiction works may produce different results. For instance, in The Diary of Dawid, there could be several different climaxes versus just one. People can apply the formalist theory in different ways, which can cause ambiguity. However, sticking to one’s specific interpretation for the entirety of the story will allow a valid interpretation of the work—fiction or non-fiction.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at March 31, 2009 11:25 AM

Jamison Whitney
Dr. Hobbs
English 340
March 31, 2009

Group Discussions

The climax of The Diary of Dawid Sierkowiak is a very difficult aspect to distill from the text. Story structure which is used to give form to fiction cannot always be smoothly applied to non-fictions works. The problem is that Dawid did not have the goal of a cohesive storyline in mind when he wrote his diary; it was in fact just a diary. So the application of fiction standards to this work seems forced to me. The closest we came to finding a climax was the point at which Dawid writes that he no longer has hope for the future and resigns to his fate, to whatever may come. This is the first instance that Dawid has truly shown despair: previously he was more optimistic, always finding something to occupy his time. This decision to leave behind his “futile” intellectual pursuits begins his downward spiral that spans until the abrupt end of his diary. This is the closest event to a climax in the diary but there is no true climax because this is not a story, it’s a diary.

Posted by: Jamison Whitney at March 31, 2009 12:35 PM

My group was to talk about what caused the book to be written. The answer to this question is rather simple. We came up with Hitler being elected into office and obviously the start of WWII and everyone being against the Jews. This book is about a boy's story about living in the Jewish ghetto's and the reason for that book and journal to be kept is because of the War and him being forced to live in the ghetto while the war is being fought. If there was no war and Hitler didn't come into office then there would be no Holocaust and no reason for this book...

Posted by: Renee Forero at March 31, 2009 01:27 PM

Lori Perreault
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
31 March 2009
Group Summary
Erin and I worked from the first book and these were the dates which we shared. We discussed the steps that led to complete German occupation. Dawid’s journal starts at a time of peace, but as it goes on his entrees show sinister occurrences against the Jewish population. The entry on August 21st on page twenty-nine references a newspaper that says the final crisis will be in two weeks. Not six says later another newspaper calls it the calm before the storm. (29) By September 8th Lodz is occupied. (36). Within two days there are signs of German occupation. (37) Two days is a relatively short period of time to have a whole district occupied. Five days go by and Jews are no longer welcome in the food line and are removed. (39)
Things are quiet for about a month but on November 10th the members of the Jewish community council were imprisoned. (61) Another five days later and the local Synagogue had been burnt down (62). The last step in segregating the Jewish population was kicking the Jewish children out of school, this happened on December 3rd.

Posted by: Lori Perreault at March 31, 2009 03:28 PM


*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.

~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. B. Lee Hobbs at April 30, 2009 08:49 PM

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