The Final Journey by Gudrun

November 4, 2012
‘The Final Journey’ takes place in Germany during the 1930s. This is similar to other places in Gudrun’s books, such as ‘Traitor’. Gudrun is also German. Originally ‘The Final Journey’ was in German but was translated into English in 1996. Gudrun was born in Germany in 1928.

In ‘The Final Journey’ an eleven-year old girl named Alice is the protagonist. Alice has been staying in the basement of her house for the past two years, completely unaware of the events going on outside of her secret annex. With her parents gone at a concentration camp, Alice’s grandparents keep her in the dark, saying her parents have been at the dentist’s office for six months. “Even as a little girl she had always wanted to change immediately if she made herself a mess at the table or in a game.” (Pg.5) When Alice was a little girl her mother and grandmother would always make sure Alice was clean. Then Alice had an obsession with being clean twenty-four hours a day.

The major conflict in this novel is man vs. man. The Jews and the Nazis were involved with Alice being locked up in a box car. For most of this novel Alice and the other Jews were locked in the box car. At every stop the Jews would cry for water and a doctor, but the Nazis would just ignore their cries as if the Jews weren’t even there. Only once the Jews got water form the Nazis, but the Nazis shot a man trying to escape named Paul, and put his dead body back into the car, and didn’t take Alice’s grandfather’s body out of the car.

Alice and her family end up in a box car because they had secretly been hiding in abasement for two years. Sometime, someone found out about Alice’s family and told Nazi guards. One night Alice’s secret annex was barged in by a Nazi telling them to grab a few things and leave. Once Alice steps outside she sees tons of Jews huddled, ready to board the box cars. After most Jews used the bathroom at the platform they were sorted into box cars and shipped off to concentration camps.

After two nights and a day, all that was left of the Jews filed onto a platform at Auschwitz. Worrying about the dead bodies of Paul and her grandfather, Alice asks a prisoner to bury them side-by-side. Then Alice stood in line behind her friend’s mother,Ruth, to be sorted into lines of who was dying, and who was a prisoner. Alice got sorted into her line, put her stuff down and went into the ’undressing room’. Alice then walked out of the room wearing nothing but her jewelry on, waiting for her glorious ’shower’. Alice walked into a gas camber and die still waiting for the ’water of life’.

The climax of ’The Final Journey’ is when Alice is yelling at her grandfather about how he had lied to her for the past two years. Alice didn't realize it, but as she was shouting at her grandfather he died. I selected this as the climax because this is where Alice really begins to mature. Alice is now realizing how much danger her and the rest of the Jewish population is in. She also realizes how much her family had lied to her.

The theme of the novel is to be aware how much pain and suffering occurred during the Holocaust. There was pain when the Jews got crammed in the box car. There was suffering when there was no restroom on the box car. There was also pain when people got shot for trying to escape. “She was aware only of the shots, cries, and men’s voices bellowing.” (Pg.91) This is when a man in the box car got shot because he was trying to escape with two other men. The Nazi guards shot at the three men, two men surviving, but one got shot and stuffed back into the box car. “ I’m so ashamed… In a great hurry he took a roll of lavatory paper from her own rucksack, picked up his coat, and returned to her as quickly as he could.”(Pg.47) This quote is when Alice get an upset stomach and has to use the restroom but hates the fact of having no restroom to go in. Her grandfather rushes Alice to the feces pile and gets his coat to cover her, then rushes back for some toilet paper.

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