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All But My Life : Summary Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

Gerda and Abek continue to see each other every day, but Gerda feels that he is becoming dependent on her. Abek gets to go back to Sosnowitz, his hometown, to see his family for Christmas, but he only stays four days before returning and visiting Gerda again. He asks her if she has reached a decision about his proposal, but she is unable to give him the answer he is looking for.

Early in 1942, Gerda receives a letter from her friend Erika, who lives in the Gouvernement near the former Polish-Russian border. The grim letter reports a massacre of Jews in the market place. Those who survived were forced to march outside the town and dig their own graves before being shot. Erika’s mother, her baby brother, and her boyfriend Henek, whom she planned to marry, were all murdered.

Analysis

Gerda continues to feel ambivalent about Abek. She wants to go on seeing him, but she does not want to tie herself down to him, as she does not feel that she loves him.

There is a stark division in this chapter between Gerda’s relationship with Abek—which is really a story of love unrequited—and the distressing news that Gerda receives in the letter from Erika, about the massacre she witnessed. Perhaps for the first time, the full horror of the Nazi reign of terror against the Jews in Poland is laid out in this chapter.




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