MJL Long Paper - In Pursuit of Justice Wyatt McCallum...

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In Pursuit of Justice Wyatt McCallum Comparative Literature 279 Professor Gealy November 27 th , 2011 Wyatt McCallum November 27, 2011 Professor Gealy Modern Jewish Literature In Pursuit of Justice Almost all of the stories we’ve read during this course have made some statement about morality. They’ve addressed what is right and wrong according to both Jewish and secular law, and some have focused on the gray areas between the two. However, the stories we’ve read have been split down the middle on how to deal out justice after a breach in morality has occurred. For
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example, the stories we’ve read by I.B. Singer have avoided saying much about justice, especially in “Taibele and Her Demon”, where he says that “The dead will awaken one day, but their secrets will abide with the Almighty and His judgment until the end of all generations,” (Singer 139). Three stories that do deal with the topic of justice are “Defender of the Faith” by Philip Roth, “The Legacy of Raizel Kaidish” by Rebecca Goldstein, and Panther in the Basement by Amos Oz. In the wake of Holocaust, many traditional views of dealing justice were shattered, and these while these stories don’t make statements on what to do to the Germans, they do address the issue of how Jews should retaliate against those who have wronged them. The question of justice is complicated though, and as a result each of these works ends up with a different answer. However, they all reflect one thing that represents a change in Jewish thought; actions must be taken to ensure justice is delivered. “Defender of the Faith” is a story focusing on the plight of a few jewish soldiers during World War II who feel they should be allowing to observe Jewish traditions during basic training. However, Private Grossbart takes his special status a little too far and manipulates too many people, resulting in the discovery that he has switched himself off overseas duty on the deployment lists. In “Defender of the Faith”, Sergeant Marx only punishes Grossbart when he has clearly committed a selfish act by saving himself, while letting him go or even aiding him in other crimes. He also only takes action to change Grossbart’s orders when he realizes that Grossbart duped him personally. Sergeant Marx knows he should have taken action earlier, for at the end of story he says, “And then, resisting with all my will an impulse to turn and seek pardon for my vindictiveness, I accepted my own,” (Roth 200). However, for all of Grossbart’s other offenses, an argument could be made that Grossbart was trying to protect Jewish customs and traditions in the face of a culture that was trying to “modernize” the Jews. For Grossbart, this
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argument is weak; instances like when Grossbart obtains leave to go home for Passover and instead goes to a Chinese restaurant also show the selfish side of Grossbart’s nature. However,
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MJL Long Paper - In Pursuit of Justice Wyatt McCallum...

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