Kindertransport by Diane Samuels

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16 ‘The shadow of the RATCATCHER hovers.’ – An image perhaps reminiscent of the idea of him being a ‘cloud’ with legs.

16 ‘A train whistle blows.’ – probably intended to echo the Pied Piper’s piping.

16 ‘HELGA remains stuck in bedtime story mode. EVA puts on her coat and hat and label with her number on it – 3362.’ – Helga’s immobility (as well as being dramatically effective) symbolises her life after Eva has gone, constantly recalling their last story-time together. The labelling of Eva with a number is ominous, recalling the numbers with which Jews were labelled and tattooed in the death camps.

17 ‘If not the one guilty soul, then all.’ – Samuels’ conflated version of the Ratcatcher folds back into the original story. Instead of the Pied Piper’s motivation in abducting the children of Hamlyn/Hameln being that he was denied his fee, in this re-telling it is because of the one child who did not ‘count their blessings’. The story, therefore, enacts the guilt Eva felt at not being grateful for her place on the Kindertransport.

17 ‘RATCATCHER. I will take the heart of your happiness away./ The RATCATCHER plays his music. / The sounds of the railway station become louder and louder. / Another train whistle.’ – The sequence of sound effects closely associates the Ratcatcher with the Kindertransport: the train which takes children away from their homes and parents. In several of the original versions of the Pied Piper story the children do not only disappear, but are transported to another country, usually Transylvania. As the Ratcatcher points out, it is not so much the children that are taken forever, but ‘the heart of your happiness’ – words addressed specifically to Eva, and through her to all the rest of the Kinder. This is what the Ratcatcher really ‘pipes ’ away: Eva/Evelyn will never completely recover from this childhood trauma.

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Diane Samuels

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the Unkindness of Ravens If you have found our critical notes helpful, why not try the first Tower Notes novel, a historical fantasy set in the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

Available HERE where you can read the opening chapters.

The Unkindness of Ravens by Anthony Paul