"Tunes for Bears to Dance To: Prayers and Silence"

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Dublin Core


"Tunes for Bears to Dance To: Prayers and Silence"


Adrienne Kertzer, a student at the University of Calgary, writes on Tunes for Bears to Dance To. She focuses on Henry's closing prayer and positioning God as the only entity able to explain the Holocaust. She also posits that Mr. Levine's recreation of his village may be a way for him to replace God. She also contextualizes this novel as comparatively upbeat for Robert Cormier. To look at the religious framework of the Holocaust, Kertzer considers whose voices can pray aloud and how silence and testimony functions after the Holocaust. Like other Holocaust novels, Tunes For Bears to Dance To works with the idea that language fails to describe atrocity. Kertzer argues that only Henry could speak the closing prayer because he takes on the role of both Jew victim and Nazi follower. Because language cannot do justice to Mr. Levine's story of survival and loss, Henry serves as the proxy. She also considers Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem to compare Hairston with Arendt's conclusions about Eichmann as the banality of evil. Kertzer claims that Hairston is clearly evil rather than banal like Eichmann because a young readership would be confused by a morally ambiguous or void character. Ultimately, Kertzer criticizes the novel for using Henry to ask God for forgiveness when the only people in a position to forgive are the victims of the Nazi concentration camps.


Robert Cormier Collection at Fitchburg State University's Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library


Elise Takehana, Anna Consalvo


JPG, 8.5 x 11 paper




Adrienne Kertzer, “"Tunes for Bears to Dance To: Prayers and Silence",” Robert E. Cormier Archive Collection 2, accessed April 18, 2024, https://terrorandbullies.omeka.net/items/show/24.