Arthur Miller 's Focus On The World War

1043 WordsApr 26, 20175 Pages
Arthur Miller’s Focus (1945) is a revolutionary work that highlights racism, especially anti-Semitism, in America. Written during the last year of the Second World War, Focus is a groundbreaking work in every sense of the word inasmuch as it is the first literary work that deals directly with anti-Semitism in the United States. Statistically speaking, there were two main waves of Jewish immigrants to the United States between 1820 and 1920. According to Susan Haberle, “the first group of Jewish people came from Germany, Austria, and Hungary. These immigrant left to seek a better life” (Haberle 6). The second group was the biggest wave; they came between 1880 and 1920: “these immigrants came from Poland, Romania, Russia, and other eastern…show more content…
When the story opens, Lawrence Newman can scarcely see without glasses. The glasses he is obliged to wear serves a double function, restoring his sight and opening his eyes to the mistreatment of his Jewish neighbors. Because the glasses cause people to mistake Newman for a Jew, he is forced to walk a mile in the shoes of his “fellow” Jews. Consequently, Newman’s eyes are opened and he is able to discern in the face of Finkelstein the voice of God. God speaks to Newman, as Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995) would have it, saying, “Thou shalt not murder” (89)—with all that, that implies. The key point in the novel is the proper ethical behavior towards the Other, which is most powerfully manifested in Mr. Finkelstein. Miller uses him to show the suffering of Jews and the existence of anti-Semitism in America. Mr. Finkelstein, who works in his candy store in a Christian neighborhood in a Brooklyn Navy Yard, suffers a lot from threats and attacks intended to force him from the neighborhood. Actually, Mr. Finkelstein serves as a sort of Jewish Everyman, his experiences mirroring that of many thousands of American Jews. Despite his sufferings, he willingly puts his life at risk by coming to Newman’s rescue after the latter is attacked by thugs while returning home from the movies. Newman’s new pair of glasses causes him to be mistaken for
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