The Messenger

By Yannick Haenel
Genre: Adventure
Buy Now This book is on reading list for February 2013

Discussion Questions

1. What distinguishes this novel from other works of Holocaust literature such as Night, Man’s Search for Meaning, and The Abandonment of the Jews? Does the structure of the novel contribute to its unique point of view?

2. Discuss the title. Is there a difference between the message and the messenger? What happens to Jan when he realizes that his message is falling on deaf ears?

3. What compels Jan Karski to carry his message and continue on his mission despite the torturous conditions? What does this say about his character?

4. Why was Poland abandoned? Does Jan’s identity as a Pole increase his sympathy for the plight of the Jews? Review the narrative on page 112 where Jan explains ‘what it means to be a Pole’ to develop your response.

5. What is the message the two Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto give to Jan and why does it haunt him?

6. How is the reader to understand the author’s tone as distinct from Jan’s story? Does this have anything to do with how the United States and Great Britain react to the extermination of the Jews?

7. What brings Jan Karski ‘back to life’? How does he come to accept this transformation and act of ‘courage’?


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