ENG 330 – Children’s Perspectives & Narrative voice

I will be looking to identify children’s perspectives and the narrative voice in the following texts:

Themes: acculturation, transculturation, desperation, humor, religious backlash

  • Find – The Jewish family: metaphor and memory (3): HQ525 .J4 J39 1989

Motl the Cantor’s Son, “The Calf,”-

Motl, 8y/o living in Shtetl in Russia. Losing father, family endures a number of challenges that will lead into their emigration to America.

Themes: Creativity in face of challenge in order to survive. Acculturation in exchange protection

“The Story of My Dovecote,”- 9 to 10 year old boy.It is written from an adult voice, rememorating the events.

Family is middle class, has a store. They have assimilated: speak Russian. They live near Odessa (Haskalah center) in Ukraine.

Themes: torment, delirium, desperation, corruption & Jewish buy out, superstition, trust into russians, “notions of Haskalah bad for you”, acculturation, religion theme (David vs Goliath), happiness, Pogrom description, Constitution by Czar 1905 = pogrom, Xtian looting, antisemitisn, child’s refuge, grandparent death, not expecting russians to do pogrom. Brutality description.

“Bridal Veil,”- 1960- Israel. Shoshana, Worldly Rosita, 13.

Thems: Abandonement, coming of age, selfdiscovery & curiosity. Narrators in 3rd person is really Shoshana, who speaks in third person as if to protect herself or drawn herself out of this story. She become I in distinct sections, bringing herself into the sotry.

During the day she is Shoshana, but as light changes into night, she becomes Little Girl, and then again into shoshana.

“Shoes,”- From the busdriver who wanted to be god

First person narrator: child (Sober describing harsh scenes)

Themes: Forgetfulness, anger old man – child believes because his grandfather

A child visits the Museum of Volhynia Jewry. His grandfather is the only one killed in Holocaust. He touched “one picture, made of cardboard, showing a thin, pale man who was crying and holding a sandwich in his hand. The tears came streaming down his cheeks like the divider lines you see on the highway” (Keret 41).

“Then a skinny old man got up on the stage and told us what bastards and murderers the Nazis were and how the took revenge on them, and he even strangled a soldier with his bare hands until he died” (Keret 41)

“He had so much anger  in his eyes that all the rampages of all the iron-pumping hoods I’d ever seen seemed like small change in comparison. (Keret 42)

“What  we had just heard was relevant not only to the past but also for what goes on nowadays, because the Germans still exist and still have a country. He said he was never going to forgive them, and that he hoped we would never ever go visit their country, either.” (Keret 42)

“People have short memories, he said, especially where bad things are concerned. People tend to forget, he said, but you won’t forget. Every time you see a German, remember what I told you.” (Keret 42)

“Everytime you see German products, whether it’s a television set of anthing else, you should always remember that underneath the fancy wrapping there are parts and tubes that they made out of the bones and skin and flesh of dead Jews” (Keret 42)

When the child tries to re-educate or to hint at what he has learned, his mother and his father didn’t get it because they had never been in the Museum of Volhynia Jewrey. “They’re from German, you know”… “Adidas is the best brand in the world.”(42)  “Grandpa was from Germany, too.” I tried to give her a hing. “Grandpa was from Poland” Mom corrected me. “For a moment she became sad”… I kept quiet”(43)

“Nobody had explained it to her. For her, shoes were just shoes and Germany was Poland. I let her put the shoes on me and didn’t say a thing. There was no pint in telling her and making her even sadder.” (Keret 43) Child shielding her mother from pain.

“Sure they’re comfortable […] These aren’t cheap Israeli sneakers.these are the same sneakers that the great Cruiff wears.” (Keret 43) Valuing German products over Israeli made ones. It is ironic.

The child that has put on the sneakers things that they are made with his grandfather’s skin. “At the beginning of the game I still remembered not to kick with the tipo of my shoes, so that it wouldn’t hurt Grandpa, but after a while I forgot, just like the old man at Volhynia House said people tend to do.” (Keret 43)

“Some goal, eh? I reminded Grandpa on the way home. ‘ The goalie didn’t know what hit him.’ Grandpa didn’t answer, but judging by the tread I could tell that he was pleased, too.” (Keret 43)

“Breaking the Pig”

Themes: life lessons vs human compassion.

Narrator: first person, past time.

The kid is probably allergic to milk, still to earn his shekel he will eat cocoa with skin. That way he wont grow up to be a punk who steals from the candy store. The child develops attachment to this ugly. Humanization of inert object: “he smiles when you push a shekel into his back and when you push in half a shekel too, but the nicest thing is that he smiles even when you don’t.” (23)

“Margolis isn’t like my other toys, he’s much calmer, whitout lights and springs and batteries that leak. Only you have to watch that he doesn’t jump off the table.”(24)

I love it when he smiles; it’s only because of him that  I drink the cocoa with the sking every morning, so that I can push the shekel into his back and watch how  his smile doesn’t change at all. ” I love you, Margolis,” I tell  him afterwards. “Honest, I love you more than Mom and Dad. And I’ll always love you, no matter what, even if you break into candy stores. But don’t even think of jumping off the table!”” (24)

“When they left the room I hugged Margolis very tight and let the tears out. He didn’t say anything, only trembled quietly in my hands. ” (25)

“We walked in the dark for a long time, until we reached a thorny field. “Pigs are crazy about fields,” I toled Margolis as I put him down on the ground, “especially fields with thorns.  You’ll like it here.” I waited for an answer, but Margolis didn’t say anything, and when I touched him on the nose to say good-bye he just gave me a sad look. He know he’d never see me again.” (25)

Works Cited

Sholem, Aleichem, Aliza Shevrin, and Aleichem Sholem. Tevye the Dairyman: And Motl the Cantor’s Son. New York, N.Y: Penguin Group, 2009. Print.

Babel, Isaac. The Collected Stories. London: Methuen & Co, 1957. Internet resource.

Mintz, Alan L. Reading Hebrew Literature: Critical Discussions of Six Modern Texts. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2003. Print.

Keret, Etgar. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories. New Milford, CT: Toby, 2004. Print.

Sholem, Aleichem, Hillel Halkin, and Aleichem Sholem. The Letters of Menakhem-Mendl and Sheyne-Sheyndl: And, Motl, the Cantor’s Son. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Internet resource.  http://www.yale.edu/yup/pdf/092466_front.pdf


On I.J.Singer – The Brothers Ashkenazi
Newberger Goldstein, Rebecca. “Love, Tough and Not Tough.” New Republic. 27 Jul 2010: n. page. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. <http://www.newrepublic.com/book/review/love-tough-and-not-tough&gt;.

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