Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Kate  Furnivall

Helen  Eustice 
Gypsy Persecution in Twentieth Century Europe

Kate Furnivall's Heroic Women in Communist Societies

Kate Furnivallís novels The Russian Concubine and The Red Scarf depict individuals who are forced to overcome tremendous hardships throughout their lives. The Red Scarf touches upon the lives of two Gypsy characters, Rafik and his daughter Zenia, living in the fictional twentieth century European village of Tivil. Father and daughter are forced to reflect on their heritage, lifestyle, and even their appearance' which have been frowned upon by European natives for centuries. These two characters are burdened with a sense of not belonging. Inhabitants of Tivil see the Gypsies as different from themselves, and untrustworthy. However, Rafik and Zenia are permitted to live peacefully in the village, escaping many forms of persecution, but not the villagersí judgment. Other Gypsies living in Europe during the same time period were subjected to a much more brutal existence, marked by ridicule and persecution.

ďThe Gypsy girl was one. Her scarlet blouse with little puff sleeves looked dramatic against her long black curls, but she kept her eyes lowered and her hands quiet in her lap, as if she were still in church. Pyotr always felt she didnít quite belong in the village, though he wasnít sure why.Ē (Kate Furnivall, The Red Scarf, 97). These words from Kate Furnivallís novel, The Red Scarf, illustrate a common feeling of hatred experienced by all Gypsies. This hatred originated in fourteenth century Europe, and developed into a mass persecution. This persecution continued into the twentieth century, culminating in the murder of Gypsies during the Holocaust. Europeans forced Gypsies to abandon their nomadic lifestyle, and settle down. The Gypsy people tried to acquire land on which to begin new lives, but all land was occupied. As time passed, they were shunned by Europeans, and subjected to lives filled with constant hardship. Gypsy persecution developed out of an extreme hatred for traditional Romany appearance and lifestyle. This persecution manifested itself in harassment and even physical and mental torture, taking place all over Europe. As time passed, persecution intensified, leading to imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps.

Major Works Consulted:

Furnivall, Kate. The Russian Concubine. New York: Berkley, 2007.
---. The Red Scarf. New York: Berkley, 2008.
Alt, Betty and Silvia Folts. Weeping Violins: The Gypsy Tragedy in Europe. Kirksville: Thomas Jefferson UP, 1996.
Yoors, Jan. The Gypsies. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.
Photo Credit: Kate Furnivall: on the Road to Moscow., 7 July 2008. 1 Mar. 2010.