86 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2019

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Symbols & Motifs

Kenza’s Headscarf

At the beginning of Allies, Kenza Zidane, Samira’s mother, wears a headscarf (referred to as a “kerchief”) (25) both to hide her appearance from the Nazis and as an expression of her Algerian identity. When Kenza is captured, the soldiers take off her kerchief and throw it on the ground (32), symbolizing their larger rejection of different cultures and ethnicities. Samira picks up the kerchief and ties it around her head (35), a gesture that signals both a connection to her mother and to her Algerian heritage. She herself previously wore a headscarf at her French school before she was ordered not to wear it (38). These layers of meaning all converge to make the headscarf a powerful symbol of Samira’s bond with her mother and her identity as an Algerian. Thus, it’s especially appropriate that in the last glimpse the reader has of Samira, she is reunited with her mother and still wearing the headscarf. This suggests a sense of restoration and optimism about the outcome for people of all cultures following the Ally invasion.

The Beach Hut

When her section of the book begins, Monique is hiding in a local beach hut. The hut represents the shelter and safety that Monique longs for, and it can be seen as an extension of her “old” identity.