Are Asher Lev

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Are Asher Lev’s Paintings Disrespectful To His Parents? Essay, Research Paper Are Asher’s paintings of the Cruxifixion an ultimate act of disrespect towards his parents?Asher Lev paints against the values of his family and community. He disregards Jewish traditions and observance by pursuing his passion for art. His individuality has him disobeying the Rebbe, the mashphia, his mythic ancestor as well as his parents. Asher does not intend for his artwork to be harmful, but that they convey truths and feelings. Yet, the Brooklyn Crucifixions cause shame for his observant Jewish parents. In that way, he disrespects their teachings and wishes. He challenges the Jewish belief on modesty in creating nude works and disturbs the Hasidic community in his Christian imagery. Worst

of all is the reflection of the life-like representation of his family in the paintings. This causes a shocked and angry reaction from the public. The climax evolves towards the last chapter of My Name is Asher Lev, when Asher’s parents react hurtingly after the paintings are exposed to them in the New York Museum. Chaim Potok writes their reaction as happening slowly in a step-by-step movement; in silences; building up readers’ expectations of a negative outcome. Guilt and fear of disobedience induces a silence from Asher. “They’re not the truth, Papa; but they’re not lies either”. Asher appears to be speaking in his mind while thinking of the memories that the pictures portray. He disregards his father’s lesson on how ‘one Jew can cause the rest of the Jews to

suffer’. Asher feels his disrespect as a son and justifies himself in his mind, but does not speak to his parents about the Cruxifixion paintings at all. Disrespect for his parents makes Asher scared. He anticipates their disappointment and hurt. Readers sympathize in acknowledging his inner suffering as he struggles to communicate freely with them. Asher fears his father’s reaction more than his mother’s reaction for it is his father that disapproves of Asher drawing in the first place. The father appears to be the one who should be feared the most. Other characters suggest this, for example, Asher’s teacher who says,”What will your father say if he saw this?” in regards to the picture of the Rebbe Asher drew in his Chumash. His mother is more supportive of Asher and

just wants him and his father to get along. After finishing their journey for the Rebbe, she says ” I want you and your father to be friends”, The tension between Asher and his father is evident throughout the story. When his parents finish travelling for the Rebbe and return to the apartment, their relationship is more distant. When his father sees the paintings in the New York museum, he is in such extreme shock and anger that he says nothing to Asher but gives him a look. “His face wore an expression of awe and rage and bewilderment and sadness all at the same time.” Asher’s father feels ultimately disgraced by Asher. He does not want to believe that it is his son for no son of Aryeh Lev could be that disrespectful. Asher deeply cares for his mother and does not want

to upset her, but he disobeys her anyway. At four years old he is encouraged by her to “draw pretty things”, which is in contrast to Jacob Kahn’s advice to draw with passion. Asher’s mother already suspects that there would be something in the Museum that Asher would be afraid to reveal to them. Asher looks at his mother and takes her by the hand to comfort her before the damage will be done. “Her hand was cold and moist” suggest that it is too late to stop the ’suffering and shame’ soon to be endured. When Asher’s mother sees the Cruxifixion paintings, like the father, she is too upset that she barely ounces a word to Asher. The silences from Asher’s parents are because of ’suffering and shame’ that is inflicted from his disrespect towards them. Asher’s