My Name is Asher Lev

by: Chaim Potok

Chapter 11

Metaphor plays a large role in the writing of this section. Asher says not that he gets on a plane to go back to America, but rather, "a man with a beard led me gently into a silver bird and sat with me through the clouds." The use of metaphor, such as the silver bird, for an airplane, helps preserve the dream- like quality of the scene. We can imagine a very sick Asher, half awake and half asleep, perceiving an airplane as a large bird.

The placement of detail further conveys the dreaminess of the scene. When it comes to events in the outside world, Asher provides only the barest of details. The details of his internal world are sharp and vivid though, for example his detailed memory of Yudel Krinsky telling him that Vienna hates Jews. By giving Asher a greater consciousness of his inner mental life and a reduced awareness of the world around him, Potok conveys the sense that Asher is ill, unable to fully perceive his surroundings.

The end of this chapter finds Asher caught between different ideas of what constitutes success. There is Anna's vision of success-getting rich through shows. Jacob's, slightly different, involves progressing as an artist and being recognized for it. These ideals collide with his community's vision of commitment to Torah and piety. This conflict comes out at two places-first, Asher hesitates over whether to show the nudes in his show; he relents when Jacob tells him they are important to his development, even though he knows the effect they will have on the Ladover in the audience. Second, Anna serves non- kosher food at the opening. The world of art into which Asher is entering insists on its acceptance of his standard of success when it conflicts with the Ladover ideal.