Study Guide

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Compassion and Forgiveness

By Diane Ackerman

Compassion and Forgiveness

You can't spell "compassion" without "compass," as in "moral compass." Yeah, well, Antonina, The Zookeeper's Wife of the title, may be so in tune with nature that she doesn't even need an actual compass. She knows that the sun rises in the East, sets in the West, and that moss grows on the north side of trees.

Her moral compass is just as acute as her internal directional one. During the war, Antonina dedicates her life to taking care of people and animals. Like a plant growing toward the sun, Antonina's moral compass is always pointed in the right direction.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Why is Antonina so driven to help others?
  2. How does Antonina feel when others try to take care of her, like when she is bedridden?
  3. Is Antonina compassionate toward humans in the same way she is compassionate toward animals, or does she put one group ahead of the other?

Chew on This

What sets Antonina and Jan apart from the Nazis is that they care about people who are different from them. The Nazis want everyone to be one big Aryan lump, while Antonina and Jan care for people of all different nationalities and religions.

Antonina is so darn compassionate, she even tries to find goodness in the Nazi soldiers.

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