Children Of Israel: Jacob Figures And Themes In The Novels Of Chaim Potok
Cochrum, Alan Morris
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The twentieth-century novelist Chaim Potok made central to his fiction what he called “culture war,” juxtaposing his Jewish-American characters' inner spiritual lives with key elements of Western secularism. In five of his novels -The Promise (1969), My Name Is Asher Lev (1972), The Book of Lights (1981), Davita's Harp (1985), and The Gift of Asher Lev (1990) - the protagonist comes under the influence of a character who can be styled “the Jacob figure.” This thesis argues that these characters not only echo various aspects of the biblical narratives about the Hebrew patriarch, thereby turning him into a meta-character in the novels, but also embody particular facets of the central culture clash in the individual books.