Identity and Responsibility: Fatherhood in The Fixer "Permit me to ask, Yakov Shepsovitch, are

800 WordsApr 23, 20194 Pages
Identity and Responsibility: Fatherhood in The Fixer "Permit me to ask, Yakov Shepsovitch, are you a father?" "With all my heart." "Then you can imagine our anguish," sighed the sad-eyed Tsar. (Malamud, 332) This passage, coming in the final pages of Bernard Malamud's The Fixer, represents a human reality commonly portrayed in both real life and fiction: the truth one feels is often much more significant than the sum total of the events that have actually transpired. In actuality, Yakov Bok, the novel’s protagonist, has no children, nor does he have any reason to lie and say that he has. The discussion takes place during a delusion episode en route to the court date that will finally decide Yakov’s fate after over two years of…show more content…
In the novel, fatherhood seems to represent two intensely important ideas: identity and responsibility. These ideas are so profoundly important because they are that which Yakov has to accept if he is ever to escape his suffering. He must accept himself, as a Jew and as a human. He must accept his responsibility to his wife and family (however broken), his community, his past, and himself. He longs to reach some kind of sustaining spiritual and emotional plateau; he longs for security and safety; he longs for a child. He is denied all of this. Arguably, this story is one of a man growing into self-acceptance through adversity. In the beginning of the novel, there is every reason for the thread of Jewish identity to die out with Yakov. Even after its conclusion, the novel makes no indication about the state of Yakov’s faith, family, or fate. Yakov learned early in life after witnessing his father’s brutal and thoughtless murder that Judaism spells out a life of trouble and sorrow. Yakov was raised in an orphanage. His identity is predicated somewhat on fatherlessness. As if the story of his father's death hadn't been enough, experienced a pogrom for himself firsthand. He emerged from underground after three days, only to be met with the scene of a Jew, murdered and humiliated, his body being eaten by a pig. It is no wonder that nothing would ever again be sacred for him. How could one be

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