‘Non, che ne feux pas’: Jewishness, Femininity and Motherhood after the Holocaust in Le Non de Klara by Soazig Aaron

  • Helena Duffy (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Despite the veneration of the figure of the mother in the Jewish tradition and the Nazis’ programmatic assault on Jewish mothers, the theme of motherhood has been relatively rarely engaged by Holocaust fiction, or indeed theorised. Among the literary texts taking up this subject is Soazig Aaron’s 2002 novel, Le Non de Klara; written by a woman, the text focuses on a female survivor’s trauma, including her problematic relationship with motherhood. Klara Adler’s eponymous refusal, I will argue, pertains chiefly to her inability to resume her duties as a mother. I will also demonstrate that the heroine's stance is shown to be a direct consequence of her having witnessed the slaughter of Jewish babies in Auschwitz and the inexplicable death of a boy she briefly fostered in the camp. My analysis will be framed by theoretical writings that deal with motherhood in the context of the Holocaust, and in particular with the binary perception of the female victim as heroic (the mother who dies to save her child or dies with her child) or monstrous (the mother who sacrifices her child to survive). Thus framed, the novel under analysis only corroborates the view that normative notions of motherhood do not apply to the choices made by women under persecution.

Holocaust Research Workshop (Holocaust in French Literature)
Period9 Jun 2017
Event typeOther


  • Soazig Aron
  • Holocaust
  • Occupation of France
  • motherhood
  • deportation
  • postfeminism
  • postmodernism
  • feminism