Portnoy’s Complaint is a Story of a Jewish Bachelor by Philip Roth

1185 WordsJan 25, 20185 Pages
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth tells the story of a perverse “mama’s boy” Jewish bachelor, who confesses to his psychoanalyst all of his complaints and struggles. Topics mentioned in the book include the experiences of assimilated American Jews, the relationship between American Jews and Jews of Israel, and the characteristics of being part of a Jewish family. Portnoy’s Complaint fits right in within Jewish comedy traditions, especially within the time period of its debut. Roth’s novel reads like a classic Stand-up routine. As Portnoy himself calls it "The Alexander Portnoy Show!" The character of Alexander Portnoy personifies the relevant humor found in Jewish tradition. The character of Alexander Portnoy represents the classic Jewish stigma of the Schlemiel. According to Sanford Pinsker in his book, The Schlemiel as Metaphor, the schlemiel embodied the negative qualities of weaknesses that had to be ridiculed in order to be overcome within Jewish life. Pinsker describes the Schlemiel as one whom looks upon their disabilities as peripheral sufferings, sustained through no fault of their own, and is seen as a model of perseverance. An example of Portnoy as a schlemiel is when he talked about his favorite activity, masturbation. Portnoy violates all modesty by speaking in detail about his masturbation and mentioning all the places he has left his semen. The greatest memory that Portnoy shared that emphasizes his schlemiel-like persona was the time when he recited

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