My Name is Asher Lev

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  My Name is Asher Lev

author  Chaim Potok

type of work  Novel

genre Bildungsroman

language  English

time and place written  Early 1970s, America

date of first publication  1972

publisher  Alfred A. Knopf

narrator  Asher Lev

point of view  Asher Lev, in his mid-twenties, writes his recollections of his life and development up to that point. We see the world through Lev's eyes.

tone  Since Asher is writing the book, he is very understanding to himself and sympathetic to the way he felt. Mostly, he is trying to explain how he has developed and give a voice to why he has acted as he did.

tense  Past

settings (time)  1943–mid 1970s

settings (place)  Brooklyn, Manhattan, Florence, Rome, Paris

protagonist  Asher Lev

major conflict  Asher Lev has an intense desire to paint. This often comes into conflict with the Ladover Hasidic community in which he has been raised.

rising action  Asher studies art with the non-observant Jacob Kahn, Asher moves to Paris to study there, Asher paints a picture of his mother in a crucifixion scene.

climax  Asher's parents see his crucifix paintings

falling action  Asher's parents distance themselves, Rebbe asks Asher to leave the community

themes  The conflict between art and community

motifs  Travel, unfinished work

symbols  Earlocks, the Rebbe, Asher's mythic ancestor

foreshadowing  On the plane to Paris, Asher alters the Pietà. This foreshadows his later artistic creation in which he further alters the form of the crucifixion, using it to depict his family.