The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a story of defiance, of successfully breaking and escaping the oppressive mores of society with skill and tenacity, and an embodiment the novelistic tradition of disregard for the monolithic structure on which our world is based. The book is set up around the theme of “the carnivalesque”, and shows how this rebel attitude can be taken up like a mantel, so a character can make change and find happiness in an oppressive world. These characters come to realize that the carnivalesque is the true way to live, and it is only when they wear the mantle full time that they find satisfaction in their life.
In the German occupied Prague, the Jews have been earmarked for hardship and extinction at the hands of the Nazis. Joseph Kavalier, a young man of a bohemian Jewish family, spent his youth under the tutelage of a great escape artist. Fascinated with slight of hand tricks, stealth, and lock picking, Joseph is taught all manner of clandestine skills. It is with these abilities, that he is able to revel in the carnivalesque and escape where others are constrained by their insistence on following the rules.
The great protector of the Jews is the golem of Prague from ancient myth, a fantastic example of the Carnivalesque in the form of a Cabalic defiance of power. With the knowledge of how to activate the Golem lost to time, the secret society charged with protecting it must smuggle their massive charge out of Prague before the Nazis discover its location. Young Joseph, already hoodwinked by a bribed Nazi emigration offical, sees in the Golem his opportunity to escape. With the Golem dressed in an enormous suit and posed as a dead...
... middle of paper ...
...tions that determine the structure and order of ordinary . . . life are suspended . . ." (Kohl)
Oppressed as he is, Joe fails to embrace the carnivalesque and so fail his family and his love ones. Only by escaping his place in the order and suspending the rules can he manage to make change.
As you can see, the Carnivalesque is key to these characters. Though Sam finds that by putting on the cloak of the Carnival, he finds satisfaction, Joe, despite his excellent talents, fails to make the final leap of logic in time to make meaningful change. His family dies and he goes without his loved ones for years because of his failure to take up the mantle of the Carnivalesque. It is not until he returns, soiled as his repuation is, to his old love and son, where their strange new family unit is questioned and mocked by the world, that he finally finds his satisfaction.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Many people live a life of mystery. Some can keep their secret well, while others will try to escape their reality and live a life of lies just to fit in. Michael Charbon uses escape as a major theme throughout his book “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”. Charbon created multiple characters who face situations in which they need to escape to live a fulfilling life. One of Charbon’s main characters, Sammy Clay, moves his family from the city to the suburbs to escape his secret life, live the American dream, and provide affordable housing for his family.... [tags: Homosexuality, Gay, Suburb, Sexual orientation]
1788 words (5.1 pages)
- It was a dark time in the history of the United States. A crisis was shadowing the country and had locked the North and the South at each other’s throats. Tensions were escalating and civil war seemed imminent. One brave man stood up to the challenge of resolving the conflict – Congressman Henry Clay of Kentucky. Despite his old age and illness, he managed to develop a set of compromise measures and convinced both sides to agree to it. This compromise, the Compromise of 1850, may have held off the Civil War for a decade, giving the North ample time to prepare (Remini).... [tags: Nullification, compromiser, Clay]
1459 words (4.2 pages)
- Today's world is filled with both great tragedy and abundant joy. In a densely populated metropolis like New York City, on a quick walk down a street you encounter homeless people walking among the most prosperous. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten the prosperous person will trudge straight past the one in need without a second thought. A serious problem arises when this happens continually. The problem worsens when you enter a different neighborhood and the well-to-do are far from sight. Many neighborhoods are inhabited only by the most hopeless of poverty - ridden people while others downtown or across the park do not care, or are glad to be separated from them.... [tags: Jonathan Kozol, Amazing Grace]
847 words (2.4 pages)
- The foreseeable Connection: Superheroes and Jews The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, a novel that takes place during the "Golden Age" of comics, a magical era right before television when the country was at war and needed a medium that could help them coupe with these difficult times. Who was behind the creation of many of these superheroes. Who desperately needed an alter-ego. The American Jewish male; growing up in America Jewish males faced many stereotypes, most of which were concerned with the physical stature and the masculine identity.... [tags: Jewish Religion Metaphor]
1869 words (5.3 pages)
- Reading "Clay" Ironically Although irony is no stranger to the common man in contemporary times, it is a subject of great controversy and interest in literary circles. There has been much academic discussion about this tricky trope and there will probably never be consensus in the understanding of irony amongst those who study it. Nevertheless, it is still rewarding to try to gain some fundamental understanding of this way of "saying one thing and meaning another" (Hutcheon, 37) because those who succeed in unravelling this intriguing process receive a sense of "special 'intellectual' satisfaction felt from dealing with ambiguity and paradox, contradiction and incongruity" (42).... [tags: James Joyce Clay Essays]
2874 words (8.2 pages)
- Within the next few pages here I intend to address two issues. First I will try to give a personal review of what I saw this book to hold, and second I will try explain the revelence which this book has to the field of Public Administration. First try to picture children in a slum where the squalor in their homes is just as bad as that which is in the streets. Where prostitution is rampant, thievery a common place and murder and death a daily occurrence. Crack-cocaine and heroin are sold in corner markets, and the dead eyes of men and women wandering about aimlessly in the streets of Mott Haven are all to common., Their bodies riddled with disease, disease which seems to control the neighbor... [tags: Amazing Grace Essays]
1065 words (3 pages)
- Atrocities Exposed in Amazing Grace god bless mommy. god bless nanny. god, don't punish me because I'm black. The above is an excerpt of a prayer taken from one of the saddest, most disheartening books I've ever read. Jonathon Kozol based this book on a neighborhood in the South Bronx, called Mott Haven. Mott Haven happens to be not only the poorest district in New York, but possibly in the whole United States. Of the 48,000 living in this broken down, rat-infested neighborhood, two thirds are hispanic, one third is black and thirty-five percent are children.... [tags: Amazing Grace Essays]
1049 words (3 pages)
- Amazing Grace Book Review My reaction to the book was very shocking. I like the book very much and thought it was very informative. It kept me at the edge of my seat wanting to read on and learn more. It was amazing to learn about how bad living conditions are in some neighborhoods. It was shocking to hear about some things that go on in neighborhoods like the Bronx and how people are treated.... [tags: Amazing Grace Book Report]
1130 words (3.2 pages)
- Amazing Grace As part of the summer reading assignment this year, I read the book Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol. In this documentary-style book, he told about the horrible yet completely realistic conditions of the most poor, rundown neighborhoods and districts in New York City. Kozol wrote the book for the purpose of telling the stories of the children who lived in these parts of the city. He dedicated his work to those children and it was his goal to inform readers that slums were in fact in existence and the children who resided there did not deserve to live in such a poverty-stricken area. The question "Why should their childhood be different from others across t... [tags: Amazing Grace Essays]
809 words (2.3 pages)
- Using the themes we have examined in this course discuss the situation of the children in Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace. Who defines them as 'other'. How. What makes them feel like 'nobodies'. What makes them feel like 'somebodies'. What is the role of religion in this daily struggle for human dignity. Drugs, violence, prostitution, pollution, infestation, and sickness of all kinds are present in South Bronx, New York. Unfortunately, children are surrounded and involved in all these problems and more.... [tags: Race relations amazing grace report]
799 words (2.3 pages)