Bernard Malamud Revisited: Portrait of the Post-Holocaust Jewish Hero in the Fixer

Download 385.37 Kb.
View original pdf
Size385.37 Kb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11
This study will contribute to the scholarly conversational- ready in progress about Bernard Malamud as a major writer of the twentieth century and a leading figure in Jewish American fiction. Through a careful study of Malamud’s life and career, and observing the role he could have played in postwar America’s social unrests and injustice, this study challenges the Malamud’s claim to universality and asserts that he is a Jewish writer who reflects and identifies with the ideals of a particular people. Also by introducing Malamud’s protagonists as heroes who belong mainly to a particular people and period, this study takes anew step to a more accurate understanding of Malamudian fiction.
The concept of Jewish heroism plays a crucial role in reviving, sustaining, and encouraging Jewish national pride, identity, and solidarity. Jewish heroism and Jewish suffering are two sides of the same coin. While the notion of Jewish suffering seems mainly to have external function, Jewish heroism acts as its supplement and fortifies the interior and domestic structures and helps to create anew Jew free of the victim mentality (Shiff Jewish theological responses to the alleged Holocaust began during and after the war, and to settle this question non-theologically, one significant way has been to portray the alleged Holocaust, especially among the Jews, as a source of heroism and resistance. That is why Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israelis called Holocaust and Heroism Day. In other words, although the Holocaust is symbolized to be the emblem of Jewish suffering and persecution, it is at the same time shown to the Jews as the symbol of Jewish heroism and resistance, as well as anew canon of faith in the Jewish Religion that has strengthened the ties of the international Jewish community and has made it more powerful than ever (Wistrich Malamud is among the few Jewish American writers whose fiction, especially his highly praised novel, The Fixer, is concerned foremost with this double theme. That is to say, on the one hand it portrays the Jews as the most suffered and the most victimized, and on the other hand not as passive takers of it not as schlemiels. As Richard Gray says, although suffering is inevitable for them. and it is their uninvited, unavoidable history it is what they do with their suffering that counts (610). They become heroes through their resistance, morality, and the responsibility they accept toward their people, and thus strengthen the sense of solidarity among the Jews. They deserve the praise of their people for this heroism. This is apparent in the reaction of the Jews who were watching the fixer in the carriage on his way to the trial Among those in the street were Jews of the Plossky District. Some, as the carriage clattered by and they glimpsed the fixer, were openly weeping, wringing their hands. One thinly bearded man clawed his face. One or two waved at Yakov. Some shouted his name (TF I have argued in this article that Bernard Malamud is primarily a Jewish writer whose hero of the Pulitzer Prizewinning novel, The Fixer, should be considered as a Jewish hero who befits mainly the time of its creation, the post-Holocaust era. He should not be interpreted as the archetypical Jewish character, the schlemiel, or as atypical universal hero. He is the portrait of Jewish suffering and Jewish heroism at the same time the Jew for whom we can feel both pity and pride. That is to say, on the one hand Malamud’s protagonists area metaphor to stand for the alleged death of six million Jews, and on the other hand they are heroes of resistance, morality, and acceptance of responsibility toward their people.
By making a contextual contrast between postwar and
post-Holocaust America, I have argued that Malamud could have contributed to more universal issues compared to the alleged Holocaust and Jewish suffering. According to the facts and details provided in this study, the US. domestic and foreign policies in the postwar years not only caused considerable social unrests in America but imposed imperialistic wars and irreparable afflictions to

Bernard Malamud Revisited Portrait of the Post-Holocaust Jewish Heroin the Fixer
various countries. Two incidents, however, have been of paramount significance and the focus of national and international attention the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. Although the discrimination and violence being perpetrated on the black population of America has continued even to the present day, the Vietnam War can be considered as the embodiment of injustice in the postwar years. The war during which the United States dropped more than twice as much bombing tonnage. than the total bombing tonnage dropped during World War II Anderson 92). Malamud believed that one’s work should not be directed to apolitical end like the Vietnam War, and if that happens, there is no art. This is in the case that he directed his own art to the alleged Holocaust and spoke for the Jews and Jewish concerns in many of his works, especially The Fixer.
Regarding The Fixer and its hero Malamud himself said, I wanted to write a gutsy, triumphant book, not a book about defeat and sorrow. I was writing about a folk hero
(qtd. in Abramson 70). This folk hero does not resemble in the least the affluent Jews of postwar America, but Malamud has created him for them. This is why Philip Yannella in his contextual analysis of American literature after the Second World War notes that one of Malamud’s primary subjects is how to retain the Jewish cultural traditions despite living in an alien place (124), or why Gerald Sorin observes, Nowhere is the responsibility of peoplehood more starkly or darkly demonstrated than in The Fixer” (271).

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page