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Suffer the Little ChildrenUses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children's Literature$
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Jodi Eichler-Levine

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814722992

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814722992.001.0001

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Bound to Violence

Bound to Violence

Lynching, the Holocaust, and the Limits of Representation

(p.97) 4 Bound to Violence
Suffer the Little Children

Jodi Eichler-Levine

NYU Press

This chapter explores some of the darkest questions facing the telling of pasts to children, including those about the imagery of violence and the horror of genocide. It begins by focusing on Emmett Till and Anne Frank, two youths who each became major parts of American memory during the 1950s, to highlight how to overcome cultural difference, taboos of showing violence done to bodies, the spectacular nature of showing such bodies, and metaphors of sacrifice. It then compares two pieces of historical fiction: Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, a time travel novel about the Holocaust, and Julius Lester's Guardian, a gruesome imagined tale of sexual violence and lynching in the 1940s. The chapter shows that child victims of violence hold symbolic power not only because of their presumed innocence, but also because of how horror over innocent sacrifices binds communities together.

Keywords:   children, violence, genocide, Emmett Till, Anne Frank, sacrifice, The Devil's Arithmetic, Holocaust, Guardian, lynching

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