The Sanctuary in Polish Hill, a short story cycle set in the late 1900s to 2008, surrounds a women’s shelter in Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA. Ruta Laksa, a second-generation Polish immigrant, moves to the neighborhood named for the influx of Polish immigrants in the late 1800s. Through vignettes of her life, Ruta finds solace in food and community as she struggles with her mental illness. Scattered throughout her own story are vignettes of other women struggling with their own mental illness and those who seek solace and safety. These women build community with each other through food, conversation, and relationship, allowing these characters to be understood and seen as human without the strain of mental illness stigma. The Sanctuary welcomes all and the characters’ humanity shines through their mental illness while the Sanctuary offers each character a respite and the chance to heal.
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English Language and Literature
Harsch, Annabelle M., "The Sanctuary in Polish Hill" (2021). Honors Theses. 316.