The Fixer Essay

The Fixer Essay

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During the early 1900’s, the world underwent an antisemitic coup that was treated differently throughout all countries. Life for Jews in Eastern Europe, during the early 1900’s, was characterized by oppression, segregation, limited occupations, and extreme racism. They were not allowed to marry out side their race and people were willing to show their hatred (anti-Semitism) via decals or pins such as the two-headed eagle of the Black Hundreds on Mr. Maximovitch. In his novel The Fixer, Malamud tells the story of Yakov Bok, a Jew born in Russia during the very early 1900’s. Aspiring to a good future, he leaves his home for Kiev to start a new life. While living here he must hide his cultural background, even though he doesn't believe in God anymore, to protect any chance of a promising future. It is when he is blamed for a murder that he struggles to find God again and begins to question his life choices. The major themes of the book are segregation, struggle with religion, striving for freedom, and extreme racism, which are expressed through Yakov Bok’s life.

In The Fixer, Malamud recreates the story of Mendel Belis, a Jew who is living in Keiv and is framed for the murder of a young christian boy. The book is written in a limited third person view as it follows the life of Yakov Bok. He is a poor Jew barley getting buy on his work who leaves his home in hope to make a newer and better life in Kiev. Yakov expresses his goal to his farther-in-law when he says “All I have now in this miserable town is a beggarly existence. Now, I'll try Kiev. If I can live there decently, that's what I’ll do. If not, I’ll make sacrifices, save up, and head to Amsterdam for a boat to America. To sum it up, I have little, but I h...


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...cist as he doesn't allow Yakov to do anything and only keeps hurting him. He chains him to the bed, attempts to poison him, and emotionally beats him with strip searches and starvation.

In Yakov’s attempt to leave his him and strive for a new, more enjoyable life, he actually made a life of pain and suffering. Yakov blames his religion for what happened with him, but the truth of him going to jail could had been a sign for him to re find his religion. His farther-in-law said his religion will help him and even though he had to face the racism and segregation for all life, it was his religion that brought into view his freedom dream. Malamud tried to make a point through Yakov’s life that even through the worst treatment in the world and the possibility of death, having faith could lead you to this other door of freedom and the true life you always wanted.

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