Disclamer: My writing is my opinion, and I do my best to cite all of my resources. (Still working on the disclamers and copywrite)
I never really read short stories before my writing classes. If I did, they were usually in the horror genre. As I’ve been going through my writings I’ve found a little piece about Philip Roth’s “The Conversion of the Jews” and “A Pair of Silk Stockings” by Kate Chopin that made me think about short stories again. Honestly, I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading since I have some time off. However, I’ve had this post halfway done for awhile so I want to get it posted.
I’m going to leave a little something about Roth’s short story at the end if the post. If you’d like to read the short analysis you can scroll down a little. but first I want to talk a little about short stories in general.
A short story is:
- A brief fictional prose narrative that is shorter than a novel and that usually deals with only a few characters. (Britannica)
- Your usually going to read these in one sitting, since their word count ranges between 1,000 and 20,000 words long (Americanliterature.com)
- The two that started the post
Like I said at the begining of the post I never really read short stories and they’re still not my favorite. However, I found this link that has alot of interesting stories that I’m trying to get through.
Or if your like me and like to read shorter pieces you can check out my other post about flash fiction here
Now on to a little something about the “The Conversion of the Jews”. I am going to discuss this story as if you’ve read it.
If you don’t know this story, and still reading, is about a little boy who gets reprimanded for asking questions about his faith. In the end he forces his elders to apologize by saying God could impregnat a women. That’s where the title comes from. He gets his Jewish elders to say that Jesus was the messiah by threatening to jump off the roof of the school.
First, I went through a lot of emotions while reading this story, and my analysis for class was to examine what makes this story uniquely American. What makes it uniquely American is that faith is so openly questioned and yet not up for debate. I’m sure it’s an issue everywhere, but American culture seems to be more open about religious freedoms. On one hand, we have everything in American propaganda telling us that we have the freedom to believe in any religion we want. On the other hand, there is a picture of the perfect American family that follows older family values and follows the family’s religion. Roth’s story showed the struggle of questioning that status quo.
One of the points that the author was trying to make is that religion should be felt and believed in, and not something that is practiced through repetition. He shows the reader how people start to practice their religion without thinking. In turn this way of dealing with religion gets passed on to their children.
For instance, Oscar gets yelled at for reading a passage too slow, but he does this in order to understand what he’s reading. He thinks he needs to feel and understand his religion, and not simple read it. However, the Rabbi doesn’t want him to read to understand, but to read the passage fast. I see this as the Rabbi wanting him to go through the motions that he is supposed to do, and that it doesn’t matter if he truly believes in his faith. It is the illusion of faith that is important to him.
He further shows this my asking the kids if they have any questions. Though, since he reprimanded the boy for asking questions the Rabbi really doesn’t want them to question anything he says. The boy Oscar repeatedly get reprimanded until he finally runs to the roof of the Synagogue. Once up there he threatens to jump until they apologize to him.
After the story, I walked away thinking about how everyone had to be forced to listen to what Oscar had to say. He had to do something drastic in order for his mother and the Rabbi to listen to him. When learning about WWII the main question that always comes up is how. In the story, the reader sees Oscar’s mom, the custodian, and the firefighter going through the motions without thinking. I think the story wanted to show how we get so caught up in what we’re suppose to do, feel, and believe in that we forget why we care.
Thank you for reading
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