Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Milkweed: Plot Summary
Milkweed: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Milkweed: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Jerry Spinelli
Historical Context of Milkweed
Other Books Related to Milkweed
- Full Title: Milkweed
- When Published: 2003
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Young Adult Novel; Historical Fiction
- Setting: Warsaw, Poland during World War II
- Climax: Misha is shot by a Nazi soldier.
- Antagonist: Hunger; the Nazis
- Point of View: First Person
Extra Credit for Milkweed
Real-Life Hero. The character of Doctor Korczak is based on a historical person, Janusz Korczak (the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit). Korczak was an educator and orphanage director who, though offered sanctuary, refused to leave the nearly 200 orphans in his care and was killed along with them at the Treblinka concentration camp in 1942.
Roma Heritage. Though protagonist Misha’s origins aren’t certain, it’s implied in the novel that he is a “Gypsy.” While this term is now considered an ethnic slur, at the time the novel is set, it simply meant that he would have been descended from the nomadic Roma people. This ethnic group originated in Northern India in the first millennium C.E. and spent centuries journeying across and settling throughout Eastern Europe, often working as craftsmen and horse dealers. Roma were one of the ethnic groups targeted for extermination during the Holocaust, with up to 250,000 estimated to have been killed.