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My Name is Asher Lev

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.