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Ozzie Freedman Portrayed as a Hero

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Ozzie Freedman Portrayed as a Hero
A hero can be defined as one who inspires through manners and actions; who leads through personal example. Under this definition, the character Ozzie Freedman from Philip Roth’s “The Conversion of the Jews” (1959) can be classified as a hero. The sections of Discoveries: Fifty Stories of the Quest (Schechter & Semekis 1992): The Call, The Other, The Journey, Helpers and Guides, The Treasure, and Transformation, can be applied to the story about Ozzie to support it’s inclusion in this class, entitled “Myth of the Hero”.
The chapter on The Call describes that a hero may be “on the brink of a decisive change” (21) and they “perceive the danger of remaining where they are” (22). The hero must be “ready … to leave [his] old, familiar [life] behind and move on to something new” (23). In “The Conversion of the Jews”, we see Ozzie questioning his faith and going against the Jewish teaching by believing that God could “let a woman have a baby without having intercourse” (384). He stood up to the rabbi in class and was prepared to defend his questioning and beliefs.
The Other is a character who embodies the exact opposite personality of the protagonist. According to Schechter & Semekis, the Other causes self-revelation in the protagonist, which his journey would not begin without. In Roth’s story, Itzie is Ozzie’s best friend, who does not question authority or his faith, quite the opposite of Ozzie. He gives Ozzie a hard time for always asking questions and speaking out in class. (‘“What do you open your mouth all the time for?”’ (383)). Ozzie realizes he doesn’t want to be like Itzie and blindly accept the Jewish belief about Jesus. He defends his right to question something in order to seek validity, and says, ‘“Itz, I thought it over for a solid hour, and now I’m convinced God could do it.”’
Discoveries describes The Journey as a portrayal of “how difficult the hero’s quest is” (8). In Roth’s story, Ozzie faces “external enemies, agents of conservatism or conformity that must be overcome” (Schechter & Semekis, 8). He is speaking out against the Jewish religion, saying that he believes God could impregnate a woman without her having intercourse. When he delivers this defiance to Rabbi Binder, he is...

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...nbsp; By applying the theory of the hero’s journey as found in Discoveries: Fifty Stories of the Quest and applying it to Roth’s “The Conversion of the Jews”, we see that the character Ozzie Freedman truly fits the title of a hero. Ozzie questions his religious beliefs and is not ashamed to bring forth his insight and seek answers and new ways of thinking. He winds up teaching his mentor a lesson in religion and sets out to have his message heard, despite the possibility of ridicule and even death. Once he realizes he has a different belief than the people of the Jewish religion, he understands his life will never be the same and that he cannot go back to the Jewish belief that God is not able to produce a child without intercourse. Ozzie gets his message across, that one should never be punished for his beliefs, and he is then born into a new day and a new life journey.
Works Cited
Roth, Philip. “The Conversion of the Jews.” Discoveries: Fifty Stories of the Quest.
2nd ed. Harold Schechter and Jonna Gormely Semekis. New York: Oxford, 1992.
Schechter, Harold, and Jonna Gormely Semekis. Discoveries: Fifty Stories of the Quest.
2nd ed. New York: Oxford, 1992.
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