“It felt better to stay quiet”
Miming as a Non-Verbal Way of Coping with Trauma in Kathy Kacer’s Masters of Silence (2019)
This article analyzes Kathy Kacer’s Masters of Silence (2019), a novel about Marcel Marceau – the renowned mime artist who during the war cooperated with the French Resistance – and two fictional Jewish siblings struggling with the trauma of losing their parents, anti-Semitism, and the suppression of identity in a Catholic convent in southern France. The author examines the narrative techniques used by Kacer, including the combination of fiction with history and some elements of the biography of Marceau, and demonstrates that she not only shares the next-generation memory of World War II with her young readers but also depicts nonverbal ways of coping with trauma as potentially effective and empowering. Whereas Kacer’s indifference to historical dates may be connected to her determination to portray Marceau as an adolescent role model, the novel is a successful narrative about trauma and the Holocaust history, and the depiction of Marceau’s acts of resistance does not overshadow the young protagonists who do not just quiver and follow the instructions of the adults but mainly try to gain agency.
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