The Old System

1050 WordsNov 28, 20055 Pages
Saul Bellow, The Old System ‘The Old System' is, by no means a simple story. Even though at first sight we are blinded by the superficial facts, after reading it a couple of times the simplicity of the action reveals its hidden features. It is a story about the integration of the Jewish in the American society; it is also a story about life and death but, above all, it is a story about emotions. Regarding structure, the story is told in third person by a narrator who tells the events as seen or remembered by a character. The language used by Bellow is simple. The major part of the story is formed by many short and, sometimes, incomplete sentences and phrases. However, those few words are enough to understand what is going on: "Winter.…show more content…
In that sense, we can see that all the characters are affected by the change. None of them remains impassible to the changes; even though they respect and keep their costumes, they cannot prevent some things to change: the synagogue loses its purely Jewish character and it acquires the American Christian style and even the rabbi is not ‘orthodox enough' for Isaac who insists on holding on to the old traditions. Every character has a different way of undergoing the process. Some adapt and some refrain from getting ‘Americanised'. Isaac and Tina are a very good example of this. Tina, and Isaac's relatives in general, on the one hand, keep the "old immigrant style" (321) and do not do much to integrate and succeed in the new country. Isaac, on he other hand, tries hard to succeed but, at the same time, he would never sacrifice his costumes because of his goals. On the contrary, the better he does, the more traditionalist he becomes. This opposition, however, does not only appear between characters but also within them. Isaac, for example, represents the encounter of two worlds. He works hard to adapt to the new society however he can't leave his culture behind, he integrates in society but, at the same time, he becomes more and more isolated because of his character. The past, and life itself, are other important themes here because the story is build upon memories and images of the past which are
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