Describe at least one challenge faced by the character or individual in the written text. Explain how this / these challenge(s) helped you to understand the character or individual
In the novel Krystyna’s Story, written by Halina Ogonowska-Coates , throughout the non-fiction Krystyna faces many hardships and challenges. As a young eight year old girl she had many hurdles in her way, Krytyna’s ability to pull through and survive these harsh brutal conditions has helped me understand how resilient and determined she is whether it be looking after her brother Felix , becoming the prime caregiver of her mother and Aunty Danuta or learning a foreign language when her peers laugh as her. The challenges that Krystyna faces shapes who she becomes. As the non-fiction progresses Krystyna becomes a strong independent girl who strives to learn English and adapt to New Zealand while still trying to keep alive her polish background within herself.
At such a young age Krytyna faces deprivation. Krytyna was brought up in a secure household where food was a key part of her childhood “The smell of pierogi and barszcz was thick and heavy in the air’’, she didn’t have to worry about when or whether she would receive her next meal. This all changes when they are thrown into “Ciepluszki” and taken into the Soveit Union. For Survival “Food became preoccupation” as food meant so much to her. She even “found it hard to watch “ when her mother was “groping into the sack and giving away our food”. As a child we know we forget to think about others. This challenge Krystyna faced helps me understand how a child so young would’ve felt watching her mother give away food when she herself didn’t have enough food to fulfill her hunger.
The events that occur in the Siberian camp force Krystyna to leave behind her childhood and mature“now I needed to be an adult, too”Krystyna is exposed to the hideous truth of war and has to leave behind the carefree little girl she was. A challenge she faces at the camp in Siberia is when she has to take care of her brother Felix. Felix’s right leg had been smashed and his bones were sticking up through his skin. Felix’s injury helped me understand how horrifying the scene must’ve been for Krystyna as a young girl having to clean up Felix’s leg that had “bright blood oozing from the wound”. At such a young age Krystyna had to nurse felix’s injury without any clue of what she was doing or help , “there was no one to help me”. Those who were around her just watched , this was the moment where Krystyna had to really step up, Felix’s injury forced krystyna to mature as “Mama was working out in the forest” and she had no external support. Not only has the event helped me understand the horror Krystyna had to face it has showed me that she has matured and grown as a person. Krystyna put her family before herself , she talks about how Mama “had been on half rations for two weeks.” and that “she was tired and thin … soon she would be too feeble to work and then there would be even less food to eat”. At such a young age Krystyna has started to think about others , she is putting the struggle of her mother before hers , even tough Krystyna herself is clearly not old enough to be working and looking after her brother Felix. This has shown me that even as a child events can have a major impact on the way we act and live our lives, it has taught me that Krystyna has become a better person.
Ever since they started to make their way “ a hundred and twenty miles” to a railway station and “lined up at the station” back on the “Ciepluszki”. Krystyna faces the challenge of continuing to survive through these harsh conditions where she isn’t being cared for by others , where she has to fight for her survival. “ I will always remember being on that train, suspended between life and death. Krystyna is so exposed to death that she believes that she could be next. The need for food pushes her so much that she starts to steal, “I grew quick and cunning, snatching whatever food I could find and taking it back to share”. The food stollen is not only for herself but for her Mama and Danuta. Krystyna was no longer provided food to eat instead she was having to be the adult. Krystyna had to become the provider for what was left of her family , her mother and Aunty Danuta. The struggle she was facing was not only her own survival but her mother’s and her Aunts survival as well. They both relied so much on Krystyna to provide some kind of meal whether it was only “scraps of bread , a handful of wheat and some onions.” The way Krystyna copped with this shows me how brave and strong she is , it shows how mature she has become and has decided to step in and provide for her mother which contrasts from the time she was being taken to the camp in Siberia and was being taken care of.
Another challenge Krytyna faces is when she is been sent to Timaru convent, there she is placed in the infants class, where she “perched at the back on a tiny chair”. However Krystyna doesn’t give up “I made a list of words in my head and memorize them, trying to work out what they meant” , she managed to stay dedicated and committed to learning English. It must’ve been really embarrassing sitting on a tiny chair among 5 year olds. Krystyna’s endurance is beyond expected as even the girls laughed at her for when she spoke she didn’t give up , instead she tried harder to learn enlgih, “All day I practised English words and phases in my head”. Krytyna took responsibility for her education “I asked the nuns for books so that I could practise my reading”. Krystyna’s willingness and determination shows me how hard she is trying to learn a language she had never heard before arriving in New Zealand. Krystyna’s spirit is so positive that she manages to lean a new language and even do better in school than some of her New Zealand peers.
Overall these challenges help me understand how Krystyna must’ve felt as a young girl who was only eight years old, who was stripped of her identity , her home and Poland. It would’ve been devastating slowly losing each family member after doing all that you could to support them and then being sent to a foreign country on the other side of the world where you couldn’t speak the same language as them and were separated and weren’t allowed to communicate with your Polish peers in polish. Though no child should go through this horror , these events have made Krystyna stronger , they have pushed her to her limits so much that nothing else can make her suffer as much. She has become so accustomed to loss that nothing else can break her, she has lost all those who were close to her.