My Name is Asher Lev

by: Chaim Potok

Chapter 1

Summary Chapter 1

The discussions Lev has with his parents about art are meant to give us a glimpse into his personality and foreshadow his independence of thought. In one instance, he talks back to his father, telling him that, "a drawing is not foolishness." Especially in the community in which Asher is raised, such dissent at an early age would be extremely rare. His mother often asks him to draw a pretty world. From an early age, however, Asher draws the world as he sees it. This shows his willingness, even at an early age, to deviate from his mother's simplistic model of what art should be, to draw as he sees appropriate.

Furthermore, from an early age, Lev's art is the medium through which he relates to his world. He speaks of his memories of drawing certain things. When he retreats into his room alone, he draws. Drawing is set up as the young Asher's way of relating to and dealing with the world.

After meeting Yudel Krinsky in the supermarket, Asher asks his father, "is he one of us?" There is a clear dichotomy being set up between those who are Ladover and those who are not. This is only one indication of the extreme insularity of the Ladover community in which the Levs live. This insularity is combined with a feeling of extreme responsibility that each member of the community has for others. This is evidenced by Aryeh Lev's work in bringing Ladover Jews to America and suggested in his comment to Aher in this very same conversation that "we'll find other work for him (Krinsky) later." The Ladover community of this book is set up to take care of all of its members.