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I had not researched much about Edith Pearlman before reading the stories assigned, but was instantly drawn in due to the lessons learned by each main character in the end. In the first story, “Inbound,” Sophie gets the chance to see what life is like without her family constantly at her side when she wonders off on her own. I was humbly surprised when Sophie realizes on her own that even though her family gets overwhelming, they mean the best and only do so because they love her. I also couldn’t get over the fact that Sophie isn’t even ten years old when she realizes such a mature responsibility to her family and baby sister. I loved that the very last sentence is Lily recognizing Sophie as Sophie, unlike how she calls Ken “mama.” That one sentence made the entire story come together with a very strong conclusion of individuality and the importance of family.

A few other themes I enjoyed were found in “Day Of Awe,” and “The Noncombatant.” While both stories are very different, I found each to have a very important lesson at their end. “Day Of Awe” provided a look into the societal view/importance of religion in people’s lives by telling a story of a man who looked passed the walls of his own little box. Through out the story we hear him complain about the lack of Jewish people in the country his son lives in, and how his adopted grandson is not like the rest of his family. His main focus is constantly around his religion rather than the people God has placed in his life, which he realizes when he attends a Christian mass. By allowing himself to step out of his little world, he is able to accept his grandson and other cultures because the same God connects them all. At least that is what I interpreted from the story. In “The Noncombatant,” the importance of life and never giving up is very strong. I loved how Richard explains every small detail about his wife, daughters, and everything he experiences while he is in remission from cancer because it gives the reader a look into the importance of living each day we are given. The ending of this story is what I love the most because while everyone is celebrating the end of the war, Richard is still continuing his own battle with cancer and realizes that he won’t be defeated by it when he sees Mrs. Hazelton’s reaction to the end of the war. While it is a joyful moment for the country, she was upset because her husband hadn’t survived the war. Richard decided that he wouldn’t be defeated when the war is over because he does not want his family to be defeated like Mrs. Hazelton.

I really enjoyed the stories that were assigned because they tied the title into each of them. The reader was given an onlookers perspective into several different lives of people during WWII and The Great Depression. Each showed different priorities and sacrifices but also important life lessons.

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