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Asher Lev's Crucifixion Paintings As An Act Of Disrespect Towards His Parents

1601 words - 7 pages

Asher Lev's Crucifixion Paintings as an Act of Disrespect Towards His Parents

Asher Lev paints against the values of his family and community. He disregards Jewish traditions and observance by pursuing his passion for art. His individuality has him disobeying the Rebbe, the mashphia, his mythic ancestor as well as his parents. Asher does not intend for his artwork to be harmful, but that they convey truths and feelings. Yet, the Brooklyn Crucifixions cause shame for his observant Jewish parents. In that way, he disrespects their teachings and wishes. He challenges the Jewish belief on modesty in creating nude works and disturbs the Hasidic community in his Christian imagery. Worst of all ...view middle of the document...

The father appears to be the one who should be feared the most. Other characters suggest this, for example, Asher's teacher who says,"What will your father say if he saw this?" in regards to the picture of the Rebbe Asher drew in his Chumash. His mother is more supportive of Asher and just wants him and his father to get along. After finishing their journey for the Rebbe, she says " I want you and your father to be friends", The tension between Asher and his father is evident throughout the story. When his parents finish travelling for the Rebbe and return to the apartment, their relationship is more distant. When his father sees the paintings in the New York museum, he is in such extreme shock and anger that he says nothing to Asher but gives him a look. "His face wore an expression of awe and rage and bewilderment and sadness all at the same time." Asher's father feels ultimately disgraced by Asher. He does not want to believe that it is his son for no son of Aryeh Lev could be that disrespectful.

Asher deeply cares for his mother and does not want to upset her, but he disobeys her anyway. At four years old he is encouraged by her to "draw pretty things", which is in contrast to Jacob Kahn's advice to draw with passion. Asher's mother already suspects that there would be something in the Museum that Asher would be afraid to reveal to them. Asher looks at his mother and takes her by the hand to comfort her before the damage will be done. "Her hand was cold and moist" suggest that it is too late to stop the 'suffering and shame' soon to be endured. When Asher's mother sees the Cruxifixion paintings, like the father, she is too upset that she barely ounces a word to Asher. The silences from Asher's parents are because of 'suffering and shame' that is inflicted from his disrespect towards them.

Asher's paintings not only profoundly effect his parents, but they are also viewed upon negatively by the community. The community's reactions compile of many instances of silences and whispers in the Museum. It is as though they are singling out Asher from his parents. The community of Jews, as well as goyims, is acknowledging Asher's rebellion and individuality. Those who mostly dislike or find the paintings atrocious would be the orthodox Jews, such as Asher's parents. Hushed whispers is converted into silences when Asher' parents are noticed looking at the paintings. It is obvious that Asher has violated the standard of Jewish religion by depicting his parents in a Christian-based painting. The community is shocked by this and can see the Jewish shame. Readers note the feeling of eyes, stares and silences repeating motifs. The public stares and points out that," That's them." In the elevator, a man also stares at Asher and his parents. Eyes often tell a story; it is able to reveal happiness, sadness, excitement or boredom. In the museum, the eyes and stares reflect Asher's shame upon his parents.

Several patriarchal figures in Asher's early...

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