77 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Prisoner B-3087

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2013

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Symbols & Motifs


Bread is a symbol of survival for Yanek and the other prisoners of the various concentration and death camps. Bread allows the prisoners to physically survive, but it is also a symbol of hope. When the Nazi guards first take over Kraków, Yanek and the other Jewish people begin starving. The Nazis give them only a dismal number of rations. The biggest treat and sign of hope for Yanek occurs when his father takes him to Uncle Abraham’s bakery in the middle of the night. By day Abraham is forced to bake bread for the Nazi guards, but at night he makes secret loafs to sell to Jewish families. Yanek contemplates how before the war bread was a staple of life that was often taken for granted, but now it’s a coveted sign of what was once good in the world.

In the concentration camps bread sustains life. The prisoners are given the scarcest amounts of bread to live on, but it’s enough to keep Yanek going. His desire for bread also brings him to some of his lowest moments. When he meets Fred, the two boys steal bread off of a dead man. This makes Yanek feel ashamed, yet he also realizes that bread only means something to the living.