The Apprenticeshipof Duddy Kravitz is the fourthnovel by Canadian author Mordecai Richler.
It was first published in 1959. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,published by Mordecai Richler has long been regarded as one of the mostimportant Canadian novels. TheApprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is the story of an enthusiastic Jewish boygrowing up in an underprivileged neighbourhood in Montreal. It is both aportrait of a young man who is desperately determined to be successful and ofthe various communities he must deal with in his journey working-class Jewish,French Canadian, and Anglo-Saxon establishment. The novel opens in 1947, whileDuddy is still in high school. He creates havoc throughout his neighbourhood,tormenting various people who has insulted or offended him. (enotes1) DuddyKravitz is obsessed with money, power and land.
With the obsession of power andmoney we see the theme of greed starting to progress from the very beginning.Greed can be applied to situations where there is a passionate desire forfortune and wealth. In the novel greed is shown by his relations with hisfriends and even with what he was told as a young child. Duddy Kravitz grows upin the “ghetto” a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by aminority group or groups. In the ghetto there are characters who are not thegreatest influence on the major character.
Since the novel takes place in 1947,the Jewish people are seen as the minorities even after the second world war.In this case, where Duddy grows up, it is full of Jewish and other minoritygroups. Considering that the novel takes place in the life of Duddy Kravitz,there are many times in which case there are controversial characters whoinfluence Duddy’s decisions in a negative way. With these characters they leadDuddy, to the wrong decisions. Finally, the last major theme or topic in thenovel is the theme of stereotyping. As mentioned above, the Kravitz’s grew upin Montreal’s ghetto. The Kravitz were a Jewish family in 1947, which was anegative period for all Jewish people, after the second world war which endedin 1945.
The main case of stereotyping, was how Jews were represented as cheap,liars and will do anything to make an extra dollar or two. Richler usescharacters in this book to display their culture and expose their stereotypes.To conclude, Duddy Kravitz is a young man whom we can say is being anapprentice to life. What he needs to obtain in the course of the novel is thetruth about himself and how to apply it to his life.
His journey to accept the apprenticeshipstarts by finding identity and to succeed in the goals that he sets forhimself. This might lead to wrong decisions which leads back to greed,stereotypes and the people in which he hangs around with.The novel starts off in the year 1947, after thesecond world war.
This was the year in which Canada started to loosen itsimmigration policy and started to accept more Jewish people from Europe. Canada loosened its immigration policy and by1949 accepted over 40,000 Holocaust survivors. In following years, Canada wasagain the destination, this time for many French-speaking Jews, seeking refugefrom aggression and volatility in several North African nations.(canada1).
These new Jewish people, had to deal with stereotypes, which are present in thenovel. The year marked an unprecedented shift in both Jewish self-perception,and the worlds perception of Jews. Just as our present-day knowledge of theHolocaust clouds our ability to imagine a time when that genocide wentnameless, so too does the contemporary news media’s continual coverage of theIsraeli armed forces render it difficult to imagine a time when Judaism andmachismo were thought irreconcilable. (Robin1) In the novel, the first stereotype we are introducedto is Duddy’s father, Max Kravitz.
Max is the father of Duddy, and Duddy’sbrother, Leanie kravitz. We see how proud Max is of Leanie and, he is proud ofthe way in which Duddy tries to live on his own. During the beginning stages ofthe novel, we see that Max does not attempt to support his children, howeverthat changes as the book progresses as he will do anything to make his sonshappy. The first stereotype which Max Kravitz gives off is the typical, peoplein the ghetto do not seem to behave or, all they do is cause trouble. In thiscase when Duddy, finds out that Max is a pimp. “Duddy smiled; he laughed.
“Jeez,” he said proudly. “That’s something. Jeez.
” Maxslapped his face so hard that Duddy lost his balance and fell against thecounter. … “You’re a pimp.” “Get out, Duddy. “Duddy got upand ran.
(Richter 27). In this part of the novel, you see the “Pimp in thehood” type stereotype. Although this quote also shows, the stereotype, ofJewish people doing anything for money. Max Kravitz also, stereotyped many ofthe characters in the novel as well. Max would always tell, his sons about a”Boy wonder”. A man who does not have to work and who has a large amount ofmoney, someone who was, Max’s friend.
When Duddy was a little kid he constantlywould be told stories from his father about the Boy Wonder, Mr. JerryDingleman. His father, Max spoke with great joy when re-telling these storiesabout him. This caused the Boy Wonder to be a humongous role model in Duddy’slife as he contributed inspiration to Duddy, as a child.
When Duddy finally gotthe opportunity to meet the Boy Wonder, Duddy was ambitious for Jerry to teachhim how to become a better superior man. However, his expectations were shotdown as Jerry didn’t provide Duddy with a chance to speak to him. When Duddyfinally confronted him, all the beliefs that Duddy had for Mr.
Dingleman werecrushed. Therefore, we see Max trying to show other characters as high andmighty while they are just regular people. Dingleman grasped that the boy wasrepeating somebody else’s platitude, and he laughed in his face. ‘I wish you’dstop laughing at me. I’m not that stupid. And while we’re at it why did you lugme all the way down to New York? For a joke?’ ‘I know you uncle. BenjaminKravitz.
He’s a childish man. I don’t like him.’ ‘Maybe he doesn’t like youeither.
‘ ‘Maybe. But you like me.’ ‘What makes you so sure?’ ‘There’s somethingwrong.
A mistake somewhere when a boy your age is already pursuing money likehe had a hot poker up his ass.'(Richler, 161). This was when Duddy finally foundout that this his childhood hero, that his father told him stories about, wasnothing but just a sick old man who sells drugs in order to become wealthy. The second character who Mordecai Richler, seems toportray as a typical stereotype, is Duddy Kravitz himself. To be more precise,a younger Duddy Kravitz, the one who we see in part one and two in the novel.During the 1940’s and 1950’s when the novel was taken place, Canada was dealingwith the problems of Anti-Semitism.
As the novel was taken place during thistime, we see this “anti-semetic” view come into reality in Duddy’s elementaryschool, and in his workplace in the diner. To start off, the stereotype of howJewish people would do anything for money can be traced back to a very youngage, in grade four. In parochial school, Duddy would earn a quick buck or few,with methods that can be viewed as, wrong if he was not a child. Duddy wouldtake advantage of the fact that minors cannot be sued in Canada. With thisknowledge Duddy, would defraud stamps companies and sell hockey sticks. Thesecond stereotype we see with ‘younger Duddy’ is when he is working with the FilmCompany called the ‘Dudley Kane Enterprise.’ While working for this company,Kravitz, does many wrong things, further imprinting the ‘typical Jewishstereotype further into him’. To conclude Duddy has certainly elected to be thewrong kind of man.
He has chosen to become a crooked person, a ruthless,callous man. Undoubtedly, Duddy was a young man who had great potential. Sadly,Duddy adopted the wrong path at such a young age and continues with that pathto his adulthood. He ends up being a failure. Perhaps his lack of disciplinefrom his early years is one of the most important attributes to his tragic fallin The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.In the novel, controversy is shown through the entirenovel. We see this by Duddy’s decision making, and the peer pressure that isused to make money decisions.
These controversial decisions lead into Duddy’smoney hungry life, and they just “feed the beast” instead of making Duddy thinkfrom right to wrong. The first case of a controversial character is afriend Duddy meets in high school. LindaRubin, was someone who Duddy trusted. Linda made itseem like she had feelings for Duddy as well but, as the novel progresses shemanipulates him to waste money in a roulette game, “Maybe I’m dirttoday. That bastard of a black marketeer Cohen can give me twenty bucks and alecture about gambling and feel good for a whole week. But you listen here,kiddo. It’s not always going to be like this.
If you want to bet on something,then bet on me. I’m going to be a somebody and that’s for sure.” (Richler,105). This made Duddy happy as he finally trusted someone. In addition to Linda another controversialcharacter in the novel was Max Kravitz and “boy wonder” Jerry Dingleman. Asstated above, Duddy looked up to the advice of his father Max, but he alsowondered how “boy wonder” obtained all this money. This lead Duddy into thegreediness in the novel.The definition of greed is the intense and selfishdesire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.
In The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,this definition of greed is shown throughout the novel. Duddy uses people—oftenconvincing them and himself that his intentions are good—that when he has land,everyone will be taken care of: his grandfather; his girl Friday, Yvette; andhis employee, Virgil. One of his means (when he is too young for more viableoptions) for getting rich is to make films of bar mitzvahs.
He issuccessful—parents want to see their children on film. But his first effort isan admixture of bizarre images masking as social commentary and Jewish ritual.(Lundquist1). This quote by Suzanne Lundquist perfectly describes thedefinition of greed in The Apprenticeshipof Duddy Kravitz. The role of greed in the novel is shown how he treats characters and how the quote a “man with noland is a nobody”. This quote came from Duddy’s uncle Bengy.
Duddy Kravitz uses manipulation in the interest of hisgreediness towards other characters in the novel. The first instance in which we can seeDuddy’s greediness comes with his relationship with Yvette. Yvette Durelle, was Duddy’s lover in most ofthe novel. However, Duddy doesn’t see her for true beauty, he only sees her forsexual needs as well as demanding to show him the land over the hills. “Yvettewanted to wait, but Duddy insisted and they made love on the carpet”.
“I don’tget it,” Duddy said. “Imagine guys getting married and tying themselves down toone single broad for a whole lifetime when there’s just so much stuff around”.”People fall in love,” Yvette said. “It happens.
” “Planes crash too,” Duddysaid. “Listen, I’ve got an important letter to write. We’ll eat soon. OK?”(Richler 191). This quote shows the reader the greediness of Duddy to Yvette,how he only wants her for sexual pleasures. The quote from Uncle Bengy, shows Duddy’s greed aswell as he uses Yvette to purchase the land over the hill, so he is not seen asa nobody to her anymore.
“The farmers would be wary of a young Jew, they mightjack up prices or even refuse to sell, but another French-Canadian would not besuspect…” (Richler 100). Duddy uses Yvette’s French-Canadian name to make surethe land he wanted to buy would get sold to him and for a fair price. Finally, the last uses of greed in the novel, comesfrom the relationship between Duddy and Virgil. Primarily, Duddy owes Virgilmoney Duddy does not have. Instead of paying him back, Duddy convinces Virgilof a way in which he does not have to pay him back that benefits Duddy, byoffering him a job. However, this job benefits Duddy more than Virgil.
“Despite this contrast and Duddy’s ability tomanipulate Virgil over the job and truck, Duddy is innocent of any realknowledge of epilepsy and certainly less informed than Virgil in this regard.” (Wainwright1).Duddy also cheats Virgil into giving him money. “Duddytook a quick look at Virgil’s bank balance, whistled, noted his account numberand ripped out two cheques.” (Richler307).
Even though Virgil told Duddy thathe could not loan him any money, Duddy resorts in stealing from Virgil andbelieves that he will forgive him just like he has countless other times. Toconclude the theme of greed is seen from the very beginning. Duddy, uses hisfriends and even his ‘girlfriend’ to further his personal need even though itis the wrong thing to do.In conclusion, TheApprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a comical novel which shows, the life ofa young boy into a grown man who, the reader sees making wrong decisionsconstantly. Duddy seems to make the wrong choices in life, as this starts offas a habit he would make in his younger years, as he would manipulate the rulesto sell hockey sticks and comic books. This manipulation would later be shownby the people who loved and cared for Duddy as he treated his best friendVirgil, a man who has serious health issues wrongly and used him for Duddy’sown personal benefit.
He treats his girlfriend Yvette the same as well. Hisgreed comes from what he was told in the past. Duddy has obviously chosen thewrong kind of man to be. He has chosen to become a crooked person, and aruthless man. In the end we see the tragic fall of the main character in thenovel, by greediness, controversy and, the stereotypes put upon him.