The Bond of Isolation
Drawn together by the theme of isolation, three classics; Emma by Jane Austen, The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok, present unique versions
of the rights of passage
associated with coming of age. Characterization, conflict and journey allegory will help us to navigate
through the protagonist's individual journeys and clarify how three vastly different lives and
circumstances can be held together by one common bond: Isolation.
Emma tells the story of a wealthy, young, and somewhat narcissistic girl whose life revolves around her
widowed father and her friend and protégé, Harriet Smith. While Emma plays matchmaker for her many
of her friends, she isn't overly interested in marriage herself. After all, she comes from wealth and status,
so she doesn't need to marry in order to attain either one. Her pursuits take us on a journey of self-
discovery and allow us to share her experiences of coming of age.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn brings to life the story of Huck, a young boy whose journey of self
actualization involves a friend, Jim, who is a runaway slave. The two take us on numerous adventures
involving, dangers, cons, escapes, death and survival. Determined to live a life that suits him, Huck
refuses to assimilate to the world of privilege afforded to him through adoption, and longs for the simpler
way of life he'd grown accustomed to.
My Name is Asher Lev tells the story of a young artist, Asher Lev, whose religious upbringing conflicts
with his growing passion for art. Hasidic Judaism taught that art is the devil's work, but Asher Lev's love
for artistic expression led him to ignore those teachings to pursue his dreams of being an artist. Conflicted
by his father's disdain for art and his mother's support of his art, Asher Lev faces many challenges during
his journey towards self realization.
The journey allegory is a significant literary theme which involves understanding how one's physical
journey aligns with and illuminates the development of the psychological journey; thus leading each
character to self-awareness. Emma, Asher and Huck each travel a challenging road to maturity, which is
depicted in physical and psychological forms. Their physical journeys share insight into the metaphoric
application of each protagonist's psychological and spiritual passage towards self-awareness; which is
observably part of their process of coming of age.
Twain's hero, Huck, begins his physical journey by escaping from his drunken father and floating down
the Mississippi River, with his friend, a runaway slave, named Jim. Throughout this expedition, Huck
experiences many injustices which formulate his ideas concerning the "civilized" society he currently