Category: Analysis

Voice and Tone

Voice and tone are always a big part of writing and will determine how the story is perceived. The voice in Marzi is friendly and child-like because it’s told from the perspective of a young girl. A good example of this is in the story titled ‘Homemade Chewing Gum’. Her friends experiment with making their own gum because the real stuff is a luxury. When they finally got some real gum they never wasted it. “We discovered that really well-chewed old chewing gum makes a good eraser, and you can still chew it afterwards. Good chewing gum never goes bad!” (Sowa, 209). There is often a sense of wonder and curiosity in the writing that emulates a child’s point of view. You can also tell from the language that is used and the structure of the sentences.

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The overall tone in Marzi is informal and light-hearted, and depending on the situation it can also be humorous or serious. When the factory Marzi’s father works at went on strike she could tell it was a hard time for her parents even if she didn’t completely understand the situation. “The world of adults is beyond me. I’d like to be one so I would have a better grasp… But seeing them like this, powerless, exhausted, I tell myself it’s beyond them too” (Sowa, 184). You can feel the emotion in this and that Marzi struggles as well when she doesn’t understand something. This was a more serious time but there was a lot of humour as well when she’s playing with her friends. “We all cover our mouths to keeps from making a sound. But when we see each other like that, with our hands over our mouths and our eyes laughing, we can’t take it anymore!” (Sowa, 45). You can feel their joy and can imagine how much fun they have together.

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Putting emotion into writing is what takes it to the next level and in Marzi we feel many emotions because of the voice and tone, as well as the visuals in this case. This article talks about how to make the reader feel emotion because everyone wants to feel something and immerse themselves in a new world.

 

Posted by Melissa

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References

Sowa, Marzena. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Ebook.

Themes- Nature

Marzi has a strong connection to nature during her childhood. Many of her relatives live out in the country and Marzi visited them often with her parents. They have a garden at her aunt’s house that they went to every week to pick fresh produce and Marzi loved climbing the trees there when she was done working in the fields. “I have a favourite [tree], it’s the walnut tree on the edge of the property. It’s very leafy and no one can see me in it. I can spend hours there singing, talking to myself, making up stories or watching the horses and cows in the pasture next door” (Sowa, 66). She finds peace in nature and loves to just enjoy the sights and sounds.

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Another time she was out picking mushrooms in the forest with her father and, although she’s afraid of the spiders crawling around, she finds the beauty in the forest. “I really like looking for mushrooms. They’re beautiful and fragile and feel so soft. I’d be almost happy to come here just to stroke them” (Sowa, 114). She imagines the mushrooms are little men who hide under their hats because they are shy and only come out when she’s not looking. It’s things like these that show how connected to nature she is, and that she cares deeply for it.

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In this video, Nixiwaka Yawanawá, a member of the Yawanawá tribe in Brazil talks about the importance of land and nature for his people. The government does not respect nature like they do and it is affecting their way of life. He talks about how most people have lost their connection to nature but he wants to share his traditions with everyone and hope that people can keep the balance with the natural environment.

 

Posted by Melissa

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References

Sowa, Marzena. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Ebook.

Themes- Religion

Religion is an important theme throughout the memoir. Marzi had a very religious upbringing; “We go to church a lot in this family, and now that it’s Easter, we really go all the time. We go on Wednesday, all afternoon. We go on Thursday afternoon too…” (Sowa, 34). She often wonders about God but is proud of her faith. After a day of pulling pranks on the neighbours with her friends she says, “I hope in spite of all our silly games, we’ll still go to heaven” (Sowa, 46). She also has her first communion in the story titled God Loves Me. “During the catechism, the priest tells us that we finally have the requisite maturity to take Jesus into our hearts” (Sowa, 55). That day Marzi finds out that being a certain age doesn’t mean your mature; she sees some of the boys start fighting inside the church!

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Another time she visits the family orchard with her parents and her aunt rushes over saying that the Virgin Mary has appeared in the school window. Marzi’s mother is very excited and insists on going to see it. Her mother and aunt saw it since they left right away; Marzi and her father go later but end up seeing nothing. “That must be faith… Those who believe, see, or believe they see… But don’t I believe? I’m sure if I’d seen her, I’d believe” (Sowa, 198). Her father says it was probably just a smudge on the window from the cleaning person.

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In this review of Marzi it talks about religion as a theme in the memoir and how it was a big part of her growing up.

 

Posted by Melissa

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References

Sowa, Marzena. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Ebook.

Themes- Fear

Marzi was afraid of many things from being unsure if her dad would come back home to a little spider on the wall. Fear is a common theme throughout the book, and especially when the country was in a state of war. The war brought “five hundred-eighty-six days of fear and suffering” (Sowa, 136). There were already shortages of certain foods but it was worse then and they couldn’t go visit their family out of town because you needed permission from the authorities. Marzi said, “My mom was crying, she was really scared, we didn’t know what was going on with our relatives because no one had a phone” (Sowa, 48). At this time nobody knew what was going on but usually its just Marzi that doesn’t understand. “I’m scared because no one talks to me” (Sowa, 50). The adults didn’t always explain the more serious issue because they thought she wouldn’t understand so she never knew what was happening.

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Marzi seemed to have a better relationship with her dad because her mom frightened her sometimes. “If I frown, I’m not trying to provoke you more, Mom. If I bit my lips, I’m not making fun of you. I’m just afraid of your anger” (Sowa, 160). There were times when her mom was very harsh and unpleasant. In the story titled Scrambled, her mother forces her to eat scrambled eggs even though Marzi isn’t hungry and has always said she doesn’t like it. “I try to wipe my mouth, but she slaps me, screaming that I waste food, that I’m evil because not only did I not eat, but I vomited onto my plate, so that no one else can finish it!” (Sowa, 159). Marzi was afraid and ran to the bathroom to clean up, and stayed there until her mother calmed down.

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There was an article posted on the New York Times called “The Legacy of Fear” written by David Brooks, which talks about how communism affected certain countries and what happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A quote that I thought applied nicely to this theme is, “Life was marked by fear, by arbitrary power, by suspicion that people are watching you, by distrust. People raised in this atmosphere of distrust have trouble forming companies and associations. They are more likely to be driven by a grab-what-you-can logic — a culture of corruption and appropriation. They are more likely to hunker down and become risk averse” (Brooks).

 

Posted by Melissa

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References

Sowa, Marzena. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Ebook.

Brooks, David. “The Legacy of Fear.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Purpose

The reason Marzena Sowa wrote this memoir is “to show you, through [her] experience, the daily life of the Polish people close to [her] during the final years of communism” (Intro, Sowa). The memoir strives to inform and to make sense of the world as seen through her eyes. Sowa shares a broad range of stories from serious ones to playful ones, but they all bring light to the everyday life of Marzi. This article gives insight into the daily life of people living in Eastern Europe in the 1980’s, similar to what Marzi experienced growing up.

 

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Image sourced from here.

 

Near the end of the book there is a story titled ‘Goodbye Dolly’, which tells us about Marzi’s good friend/cousin, Edyta, and how she wrote the book for her. Edyta has a hard time sleeping so Marzi tells her stories, which are depicted in brighter colours than previously used in the book. Sowa talks about how every tree, house and person has a story and writes, “This is where I’ll draw my inspiration from to make Edyta laugh. To protect her from the world of adults as long as I can. To pull closed the beautiful velvet curtain and let her dream in colour” (Sowa, 230).

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Posted by Melissa

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References

Sowa, Marzena. Marzi: A Memoir. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Ebook.

Plot

Marzi is a memoir written by Marzena Sowa about her life as a child living in communist Poland during the 1980’s. Her journey is shown through a series of stories; rushing to the store with her dad to get sugar before it runs out, playing with her friends in the hallways of her building, going to the family orchard to get fresh strawberries, and more. There were good times and there were bad times, but you always see the wonder and curiosity in Marzi’s eyes as she tries to make sense of the world around her. All the different stories come together to show readers what life was like growing up in her country.

Check out this animation directed by Stéphane Hernoux representing Marzi’s curiosity and determination!

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Image sourced from here.

Posted by Melissa