THE 19TH WINDOW
For students ages 15 and up
Time: Homework + 50 minutes classtime, or 100 minutes classtime
Themes: Investigation of Holocaust history, Hidden and marginalized histories, Emotional responses to atrocity, Overlapping victim narratives, Suicide and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Family history and inter-generational memory and trauma, Architecture and symbology, Holocaust tourism.
Part 1: Assign The 19th Window as homework, or set aside one class session for students to complete the mystery. Students can work to solve the mystery alone, in pairs, or in small groups. Students can be encouraged to write an informal reflection or report on their experience of solving the mystery.
Part 2: Split the class into small teams. Assign one of three tasks to each team (see below). While completing its task, each team should use the accompanying 'Guiding Questions' and prepare a short presentation for the class. This presentation can be presented as a written project or group essay.
Part 3: Teams present findings. End class with a full class discussion on the experience of solving The 19th Window. Questions: Why was The 19th Window written as a choose-your-own-pathway mystery, rather than as a linear tale? How did the choices and road blocks within the story alter the reading experience? What is the reader trying to solve?
TASK A: GEMATRIA & ARCHITECTURE
Create a story map that shows every moment Lydia counts or finds herself thinking and learning about numbers and gematria.
Guiding Questions: What is gematria? What is the significance of gematria to the story? How does Lydia's necklace become connected to her family's history? How does Lydia's birthday change the story's development and outcome? Why does Lydia become interested in the windows at the Działoszyce synagogue, and why does she want to prove Joanny wrong? In what way is architecture - of synagogues, of Nazi camps, and of Holocaust memorials - important to the story?
TASK B: INVESTIGATION OF HISTORY
Create a timeline of Lydia's discoveries, including a timeline of Essie and Andrzej's love story.
Guiding Questions: How are the mysterious envelopes important to the story? In what ways does Lydia uncover new historical information? What knew information does Lydia learn about her grandmother? What is Adam's process and experience of studying Holocaust history? How does Adam's identity as Roma affect Lydia's understanding of her grandmother's story? What are the differences and similarities between Jewish and Roma experiences during the Holocaust? Why might Lydia's grandmother have committed suicide?
TASK C: INTER-GENERATIONAL TRAUMA
Create a story map of Lydia's emotional responses throughout her journey.
Guiding Questions: When Lydia arrives in Poland, why does she becomes physically sick? Why is Lydia so afraid to visit the sites of Nazi atrocity? Throughout her trip, why does Lydia reject the urge to cry? At Chmielnik, the tour guide, Joanny, tells the group, "It's okay to feel anything - even nothing"; Why does Lydia respond to this statement with relief? Once she discovers her grandmother's hidden past, why does Lydia no longer feel like a tourist? What is inter-generational trauma? Is Lydia experiencing inter-generational trauma, or something else?