Adversity has a way of bringing up challenges in one’s life unexpectedly, as its inevitability plays a role in every individual’s life. The choice everyone has to make is how they will let it affect them in the future. Though each hardship brings another stress to fret about, it also plays a part in shaping the identity adversity has on a person. It determines one’s potential capabilities to confront hard situations and strengthens one’s personal and moral values.
To choose between your destiny or your family and childhood home is a painful decision at best. Divided into three parts, Chaim Potok’s novel My Name Is Asher Lev captures the complex tug of war between the role adversity takes in Asher’s life and how it shapes him as a character in the novel. Being an artist with talents comparable to Picasso’s, Asher’s relationships are put in a precarious position. As his father nor the Jewish society is accepting of his artistic abilities.
He tends to alternate between his moral infidelities, as he paints his controversial views on delicate subjects which contrast his familial and cultural principles. The novel brings to light this adversity Asher encounters and how it guides his character into molding his own identity.
The difficult times Asher had to confront started for him as a young boy, a talented artist who would never get the acceptance he longed for from his father. Throughout his life, his father’s inability to acknowledge his son’s talent and the lack of presence in the Lev’s household set them apart from one another. The father’s strong Jewish beliefs contrast Ashers as he does not understand art or what one could see in it. While Asher tries to share the same belief as his father Aryeh his ambition for art fringes on their relationship, creating a simmering tension between the two for a majority of the novel. When Aryeh returns one night from Europe, he discovers the lack of work his son has put in studying the Torah and the drawing habits he filled in his sketchbook of Jesus and Nudes. “He was in an uncontrollable rage,” (pg. 173 Chaim Potok) and scolded him as he sees Asher’s art as an affront to his own life’s work. He was a disappointment in his father’s eyes, and the anger he had inside rose more and more for Asher as he continued to draw. Asher grows older he decides to carry on with his passion and defy his Aryeh’s wishes. Even when his mother left to be with his father in Europe he told his mother, “He won’t take it away from me.” (pg.277 Chaim Potok) The adversity he had with his father, shaped the way he grew into an adult. Even though eventually Asher develops compassion for his father nonetheless the both of them still do not fully find an understanding for one another. Still showing “rage and bewilderment and sadness,”(pg.361) for some of Asher’s work such as the nudes, and the crucifixion of Jesus he painted and hung at his art gallery. By going in the opposite direction of his father he followed his passion for art and grew a greater understanding of the world around him. This strengthened his character through the novel and molded him to find his self-worth and a purpose in life. By the art he created, he used it to feel and follow his dreams which shaped the boy he was from the beginning to the man he is now.
Throughout the novel, Asher struggled with his inner self and the way he was raised upon the Jewish religion. As a child found himself conflicted by society and tended to switch between what his morals were and what the Jewish religion instructed him to follow. Pretending to be someone that he was not, for awhile he followed in his father’s footsteps. Later returning to the conflict of discovering his core beliefs, and who he truly was as an individual. He tried to be defined as one single label instead of accepting his number of interests. As he entered highschool Jacob Kaun abetted Asher to understand these things through self-expression and art. A Father figure to Asher, he spent hours teaching Asher about life and how it relates to art. “As an artist, you are responsible to no one and nothing, except to yourself,” (pg. 218) and “I sculpt and paint to give permanence to my feelings about how terrible this world truly is. Nothing is real to me except for my own feelings.” (pg. 226) are examples of some of the teaching he told Asher. Yet still, Asher returned to his roots and did not forget where he had come from. Still following some of the Jewish rituals and at times becoming anxious at painting things that went against his old teachings. As the novel progresses he creates his own identity as an independent individual, succeeding in his art. Even though what he does offend the relationships he had before, he is willing to sacrifice it all to follow his morals and passions. This shapes him, builds his self-worth, and strengthens him to stand up for what he believes in and express himself through his art.
Adversity can be brought upon a person to conform to societal norms. For some people, this pressure can compel an individual to abandon their core beliefs and comply with society’s rules. Asher grew up in a tightly knitted community that was driven by their Jewish beliefs. Throughout the community, Asher was persecuted by his teacher, classmates and other family members for his paintings. “You are a scandal,” (pg. 165) His uncle had told him for not studying the Torah. Along with his teacher who scrutinized him for drawing instead of studying he saw him as an embarrassment to his father and the Jewish community. The story nears the end he has been criticized by the majority of the people in his life and is strongly instructed by the Rebbe to leave the Jewish society for the work he does with his painting. “Who are you? Are you really my son,” (pg.361) had been the words that had haunted him for years. To achieve acceptance was an impossible struggle for Asher and the dreams he set out for himself. It created a barrier that separated him from the ones he loved most, which had been the largest struggle of all. He used those feelings to paint into his future. Even though not many were there alongside him the catastrophes he confronted strengthened him as a character. Setting him apart from everyone else as he followed his passion for art. “Yes, I could have decided not to do it. Who would have known?… Who would have cared about my silent cry of fraud? Only Jacob Kahn, and perhaps one or two others, might have sensed its incompleteness.” (pg.328) This embodies his key morals of the passion he has for art. Adversity shaped Asher throughout the novel as he struggled with the judgment of himself and others. Yet in the end, he overcame them and they were what shaped him to be a better version of himself.
My Name is Asher Lev embodies the theme of adversity and how it influences one to shape their destiny. The author reveals to the readers how the struggle is a necessity in everyday life, exhibiting how it can shape an individual to be more resilient and leading them forward to accomplish their dreams. As Asher did throughout the novel, keeping to his ideals and ethics and achieving his passion through art. He set aside the thoughts of others and even himself to pursue his devotion to art. If one does not let adversity change them to be better, to be a stronger person. Then life is without meaning because no one will achieve their passion or true happiness without it.
Cite this The Novel Brings to Light an Adversity
The Novel Brings to Light an Adversity. (2021, Jun 09). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-novel-brings-to-light-an-adversity/