Sarajevo Haggadah Analysis

Words: 1494
Pages: 6

Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book combines and blends the finding of the real life Sarajevo Haggadah with an imagined story of its journey through history. The Haggadah, with its illustrious illustrations, travels the world from Inquisition Spain to Renaissance Italy and eventually to war torn Sarajevo, in modern day Bosnia. On its journey throughout time, the Haggadah comes in contact with people of different faiths, backgrounds and ideologies; it is the people, rather than the Haggadah, that Brooks primarily focuses on in the novel. No character has their psyche and experience examined more frequently than Hannah Heath, a rare book expert investigating the Haggadah in the mid-1990s. It can be argued that the constant presentation of Hannah’s …show more content…
After returning to see the Haggadah and comfort Ozren following the death of his son, Hannah discovers that the Sarajevo Haggadah has been replaced by a fraudulent counterfeit. Hannah uses her expertise to assess the presented copy and vehemently insists that the original Haggadah is missing. Ozren is particularly stern towards Hannah following her claims, and he expresses to her that if she is, “completely and utterly convinced that you know better than Werner Heinrich, then go ahead, inform the UN. But the museum will not support you … and I will not support you” (326). Ozren’s speech makes Hannah question her abilities as a rare book expert and sends her into a spiral of self-doubt and pity. Hannah then examines the book one last time, as she recalls: “I let my hand rest on the binding. The tips of my fingers sought the small area where I’d repaired the worn leather. I could just feel the minute ridge where the new fibers melded with the old. I turned away then and walked out of the room” (326). Here, Hannah comes to grips with the possibility that she is wrong, and that the Haggadah is not a counterfeit. Like countless other times in the novel, it is what Hannah feels with her hands, not what she knows in her mind, that leads her to doubt her abilities. Hannah’s hands confirm her worst fears and as a result, she stops pursuing her passion for six