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The Struggle in Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev
My Name Is Asher Lev portrays conflict between the protagonist’s artistic impulses and the conventions of Hasidic community he’s developing up in. This conflict began for Asher at an early age when he was struggling to study the Torah as a “boy [his] age should” rather than drawing faces of the Rebbe and scribbling in his Hebrew notebooks. His unconscious need to be his personal individual “need all [his] strength and left Asher seeing only a single path a path contrary the values of his community. As Asher ages and develops as an artist, his devotion to his art once again rebels against his neighborhood and family values. Generating the nude art perform for the exhibit divided him from his religion to an extent which he “crossed a boundary” and was now “alone”. The disapproval from the neighborhood did not hold back Asher back from reaching for his inner individual desires.
Asher’s decisions to embrace his artistic talents not only divided him from his neighborhood but also needed him to sacrifice his family unity. Potok clearly articulates the depth of the families love for every other but even really like is not adequate for his father to forgive Asher’s blatant disregard for the conventions of his household to embrace his sense of self. Frequently, like when Asher’s father returns from house right after becoming away at operate, his father “did not greet [him]”. As an alternative, his father was “in an uncontrollable rage” and even lashed out physically when he discovered Asher went against the teachings of the Torah when he drew Jesus and nudes. Asher’s pursuit to answer to his personal conscious made him the antithesis of his father, who was arguably the very essence of standard Hasidic faith. This sacrifice to his art Asher then lived a life exactly where he didn’t understand why his father hated him why his father believed “he was wasting his life”, why his father believed he “betrayed him”. Ultimately by Asher’s single-minded try to reside unconstrained by his community’s expectations Asher sacrificed the unconditional acceptance from his father.
Rivkeh, Asher’s mother, also faces conflict and sacrifice as she lives against the conventions of her life in order to support Asher. Rivkeh must determine between nurturing her son’s artistic talents and becoming faithful in her duty toward her husband. This brings her clearly into conflict with Asher’s father. Her sacrifice is so wonderful that it becomes the topic matter of Asher’s most controversial paintings in the Brooklyn Crucifixion.
In Chaim Potok’s novel the conflict in between conventions and individualism is prevalent all through. Exactly where Asher’s family members and community supported that “a life should be lived for the sake of heaven”, Asher believed his life should not be sacrificed for achievement of his dreams and passions. Asher created existed through conflict and sustained huge sacrifices to be correct to himself. Asher’s encompassed the idea that “an artist is a particular person first. He is an individual. If there is no person, there is no artist”.
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