The Holy Fool Archetype

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The ancient archetype of “The Holy Fool” has existed for centuries, depicting an individual who acts in impractical or foolish ways for the sake of religious devotion. Spanning literature from various religions over several centuries, this archetype has found an unusual home in the 1979 Western parody, The Frisco Kid. The protagonist Avram, a Polish rabbi tasked with leading a Jewish community over 6,000 miles away in San Francisco, plays the role of the “Holy Fool,” continually acting in a manner consistent with irrationality due to his lack of knowledge of American cultural norms. As he journeys across America from Philadelphia to San Francisco, he continually finds himself in trouble with thieves, the law, and Native Americans, yet…show more content…
Having completed Rabbinical school in Poland, he knows hardly anything about America, and aside from his ability to speak English, has no real skills to help him adapt to the new world he is thrown into. But, these are exactly the traits that allow him to accomplish his two goals of reaching San Francisco to lead his new congregation, and delivering the Torah (in a complete state) to said congregation. For example, after he and Tommy are chased by Native Americans on horseback, Avram notices the Torah is missing from his rucksack (1:02:17). Having just asked Tommy “What did [the Native Americans] want?” (1:04:47), Avram demonstrates a lack of understanding of the general rivalry between Native American’s and the white man, ignorant to their general perception as “dangerous” in the west during the 1850’s. Typically, one in Avram’s position would stray away from a Native American tribe that had previously attempted to chase them down, but, Avram, ignorant to the potential dangers, and dedicated to successfully delivering the Torah, returns to retrieve it. And, even though he and Tommy are initially captured by the Native Americans, Avram eventually gets the Torah back, facilitated by his ignorance and dedication. Similarly, Avram’s entire friendship with Tommy is based on his ignorance to Tommy’s bank robbing tendencies and outlaw status. Avram, a man of morals, would likely not associate with someone like Tommy if he was aware of

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