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Poem Analysis: Tomorrow.
The poem, “Tomorrow” by Marianne Cohn refutes the famous phrase that cowards live to fight another day. In the poem, Cohn is a hero who vows to stand by her resolution not to betray those who depend on her. She uses the word, “Tomorrow” to show that she is not ready to betray today and the captors can do anything to her, but she maintains her stance. Marianne Cohn was a Jew born in 1922 in Nazi Germany. Cohn joined the resistance movement in 1941 and participated in the smuggling of children to Switzerland from 1942. In 1944, Gestapo, the official secret police of the Nazi Germany, arrested Cohn (Bush 1). Despite the Gestapo torturing Cohn, she did not reveal information about the escape plan (2). Cohn’s rigid stance and act of courage caused the Nazi Germany to execute her on July 8, 1944. Marianne Cohn shows that people can develop courage despite the situation or age.
Cohn did not reveal information about the escape plan although she was only 22 years old. Cohn was at a prime age where people have the chance to live as adults. At 22 years old, the freedom associated with adulthood could have motivated Cohn to betray her network, but she chose to stand firm and conceal the information. In stanza one, she says, “I do not know the limits of my courage” (Line 4). The statement means nothing can stop her from displaying her courage. She does not care about her age. For most people at 22 years of age, they could have revealed the information of the smuggling in exchange of a promising good life. Cohn ignored the good life ahead- a husband and children, and chose to stand with the children that were in her custody. Therefore, Cohn displayed courage despite facing the danger of execution.
Cohn shows a life of single purpose- to do all she can to provide safety to children. She joined the resistance movement at the age of 20 years old and helped to smuggle children into Switzerland for safety. Cohn’s resolution to join the resistance movement at the age of 20 years shows she had a desire to live a life of single purpose. In stanza one, she says, “I shall betray tomorrow, not today.” (Line 1). The statement means a firm resolution to hang on what she believes is right- not betray the children. Since tomorrow never comes, the “tomorrow” she says is virtual and could not have revealed the information that the Gestapo needed. For example, when taken out for interrogation, she refused to reveal the secrets of the resistance movement despite the torture and abuse. Cohn was abused, hit by shovels and eventually murdered, but remained firm to her stance and single-mindedness to protect the children.
Cohn endures the torture but does not betray the resistance movement. In stanza one she says, “Today, put out my fingernails.” (Line 2). Pulling out fingernails is painful, but Cohn preferred to lose her fingernails to betraying her friends. She chose to suffer for the sake of the children. Cohn realized that could she had given out information about the smuggling, the Nazis could have killed the thirty in her custody. Cohn, therefore, wanted the children to live and pursue their dreams. Cohn says, “Today, I have nothing to say” (Line 20). Although she has much to say, she chooses to remain silent about her network of smugglers. Cohn endured the torture and taught the need for courage, not only to the children in her custody, but also to the general public who go through various trials.
Cohn displays courage, even in the face of death. She says she needs at least one night to betray life and “to die” (Line 14). The statement shows Cohn is ready to die for the children. Also, she says “You do not the limits of my courage” (Line 4). The statement means Cohn’s courage does not have a limit and is ready to pay the ultimate price- death. In describing her courage, Cohn says, “I, I do…” (Line 5). Here, she uses “I” twice to put emphasis on self and her goal to protect the children. The statement is not complete and uses the scores of anxiety (…), to show that her courage is limitless despite the imminent death.
Marianne Cohn’s poem depicts shows that people can develop courage despite the situation or age. Cohn joined the resistance movement at 20 years of age and helped in smuggling children to Switzerland. Despite facing the danger of death, Cohn was not shaken and proved her indomitable will. Cohn teaches people to live for what they believe is right. She believed the safety of children and the impression left to the people was more important than submitting to the will of the Nazis. Cohn died a hero- she chose to die on her feet resisting rather than on her knees begging for mercy. Therefore, Cohn is an epitome of courage even in the face of danger.
Bush, Lawrence. “July 8: I Shall Betray Tomorrow, Not Today.” Jewish Currents, 8 July 2016, jewishcurrents.org/jewdayo-grid/july-8-i-shall-betray-tomorrow-not-today/.