Identity Problems of Jews (Google eBook)
INTRODUCTION The problems Jews have in different cultures from their own, especially in America, are dealt with in almost every genre of the media. From TV over newspapers to books. It is remarkable that criticism of the way Jewish people deal with these problems, is for the most part raised within their own ranks. Especially the problem of practised Judaism in a modern western society and the resulting ambivalence of habits and attitudes is openly discussed for example in TV comedies (Woody Allen; “The Nanny” etc.) but also by highly intellectual literates (e. g. Marcel Reich-Ranicki). Furthermore, this theme is dealt with in fictional literature. Two examples will be the subject of discussion in this essay. In the following I will analyse the two short stories “The Jewbird” by Bernard Malamud and “Opiate Of The People” by Lynne Sharon Schwartz focusing on composition, means of style and characterisation, role of language, and possibilities of interpretation. We shall see that both stories deal with the same topic: The problem of a Jew trying to integrate as much as possible into the American culture and at the same time neglecting, if not even negotiating, his Jewish descent and his past as a member of a Jewish society. In the last part of this research paper I will consider further parallels and differences between the two stories and their intended message. And I will discuss what conclusion can be drawn from it.
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