Asher Lev Essay, Research Paper
There are many choices that Asher Lev is faced with as he journeys from childhood to manhood. These choices define who Asher is, and what he believes in, as well as shattering the boyhood innocence he once possessed.
One of the first choices which alter Asher’s life is his decision to visit Yudel Krinsky for the first time (page 69). Although this act might seem miniscule, it was the beginning of a friendship that fostered Asher Lev’s love for art.
Once during his elementary years, Asher Lev stopped drawing all together and forgot his gift. However, Asher makes the choice to continue drawing (page 97). Had Asher abandoned his gift, he would have continued in the steps of great Ladover Jews, and faced little religious hardship. Instead, Asher continues to draw, causing a wall to go up between him and his family, and him and all that he’s been taught to obey.
Asher also visits many people and places that force him to mature quickly. One of these places is the museum in Brooklyn, where Asher first sees the work of non-Jewish artists (page 134). This choice to tour the art museum without the permission of his parents was the first conscious decision Asher makes to disregard his Jewish background for the sake of what he loves: Art.
Asher begins a student-teacher relationship with Jacob Kahn, a non-observant Jew. Asher has the choice of disregarding Jacob’s invitation to study with him, or calling him. Asher chooses to call Jacob (page 190), which in turn leads him on a journey to neglecting his parent’s wishes, and forsaking his faith.
After graduation, Asher decides to tour Europe, and see in person the art works he had before only experienced through books (page293). This decision to be on his own also forced him to choose between art and his family, friends, and religion. Asher chose art.
The last decision Asher made as a boy was to depict the crucifixion in his family portrait (page 313). This choice rendered Asher a man. By painting a crucifix, Asher told the Jewish community that he would no longer succumb to the rules and regulations of the Reb, or of the Torah. He sent out a message that his first love was no longer the Master of the Universe, but rather art.
Asher Lev’s choices in this novel serve to estrange Asher from the only world he knew growing up, the Jewish community. The take him from being a boy who liked foolish drawings, to a man who would sacrifice anything to do what he loved.