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ii This thesis is dedicated to all the Soviet writers who believed that literature was worth as much as life.
iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thank you, Mom and Dad, for teaching me (and continually reminding me) what's most impor tant, for not laughing at me when I told you that I wanted to study Russian Literature, for keeping me somewhat sane during my four years at New College, for visiting me every year and always being excited to talk on the phone even to answer the most munda ne questions, and for being incredibly supportive, loving, interested, and thoughtful. Thank you, Josh for being so caring, for being hilarious, for keeping me a part of your life, for texting me, for visiting, for being brave, for being passionate, for reading more than I do, for protecting me, for understanding, for the Yankees, for Harry Potter, and for the dogs. Thank you, Dr. Schatz, for being the bastion of my New College academic career since my first semester, for enabling me to really make my th esis my own, for encouraging me to develop my interests and to explore new ideas and approaches throughout my education, for sharing your passions, for continually reminding me how powerful literature can be, for teaching me Russian, for training me to bec ome a critical, thoughtful reader, and, of course, for being an incredibly charming and breathtakingly brilliant man. Thank you, the present, past, and future staff of the Writing Resource Center for pushing me to become a better writer, listener, collab orator, speaker, and more. Thank you for making my time at New College immeasurably more satisfying and exciting than it would have been had I never worked at the WRC. Thank you, Jan Wheeler for being the most supportive and warm leader I could ever ima gine, and for showing me how an ideal workplace runs. Thank you to all the SWAs who conferenced with me on my thesis or on theirs and for inspiring me with their creativity and academic adventurousness. Thank you to all the assistant directors I've worke d with over the past three years for being the coolest "bosses" imaginable. Thank you, Sam for bringing poetry back into my life, for caring, for showing me what "being a good person" means, for always making me laugh, for reminding me to have fun, for wanting to listen, for sharing, for helping me work through my thesis (and everything else this year) every step of the way, for still making me nervous, for your eyes, for the moon, for the crazy past, and for the future. Thank you, Jesse O'Dell for r eading my primary texts with me in the original and for helping me think about Babel's fiction in new ways that lead to my thesis. Thanks also for showing me some crazy stories by Pelevin. Best of luck next year. Thank you, Justin, Katie, Tierney, Lisa, Alex, and Ben for the past four years. Thank you, Katelin for the first year and a half, and the visits since. Thank you, Dr. Marks, Dr. Hicks, Dr. Baram, and Professor Malaev Babel for making my education what it was.
iv TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION .ii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS..iii TABLE OF CONTENTSiv ABSTRACTv vi INTRODUCTION: "AND I AM SILENT, BECAUSE I AM A RUSSIAN":.......1 A Brief Discussion of t he Concept of Self Hatred......4 Essential Context: A Look at the Jewish Experience in Russia..9 "The Jew on Horseback Who is Not Quite a Jew": A Short Biography of Isaac Babel......12 Why These Three Storie s?.....................................................................................16 A Note on Translation17 CHAPTER ONE: NEGATIVE PROJECTIONS OF THE FEMINIZED JEWISH MALE IN "MY FIRST GOOSE"..18 A Clos er Look at Sander Gilman's Model of Negative Projection20 Internalized Myths and Values in "My First Goose"23 Negative Projection and Acceptance.29 CHAPTER TWO: IDENTITY FRAGMENTATION IN "STORY OF MY DOVECOTE" 39 Jewish and Russian Bodies, Minds, and Power.41 Biblical Allusion, Character Associations, and Fragmentations....49 Fragmentation, Narration, and Time..55 CHAPTER THREE: LANGUAGE, DISCOURSE, AND LIBERATION IN "THE AWAKENING".....59 Language, Discourse, and Acceptance in "My First Goose" and "Story of My Dovecote"..65 Language and Discourse in "The Awakening"..68 CONCLUSION: AN IMPOSSIBLE SYNTHESIS?.....82 WORKS CITED88 WORKS CONSULTED92
v BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: INTERNALIZED ANTI SEMITISM IN ISAAC BABEL'S SHORT FICTION Melissa Yael Jacobowitz New College of Florida 2009 ABSTRACT This thesis sets out to examine the seemingly paradoxical dynamics of Jewish, Russian, and Communist identity in Isaac Babel's short fiction. How can a Jewish narrator write admiringly and enviously of Cossack soldiers as they insult and abuse him and commit violence against other Jews? How, at other times, can this same narrator speak lyrically and warmly about the Jewish world in which he was raised and feels at home? I argue that looking at Babel's short stories throug h the lens of internalized anti Semitism can aid us in answering the aforementioned questions and in better understanding how his fiction works. In this thesis, I apply cultural criticism, cultural history, and literary criticism to analyze internalized a nti Semitism in three of Isaac Babel's short stories: "My First Goose," "Story of My Dovecote," and "The Awakening." Though the stories differ in their content and approaches, the narrators of all three employ popular anti Semitic perceptions of the differ ences between Jewish and Russian bodies and minds when writing of others and/or themselves. I seek to explore how Babel's narrators attempt to reconcile contradictory images and ideals of Jewish and
vi Russian identity and masculinity coming both from domina nt, Russian society and from within their own Jewish communities. Dr. David Schatz Division of Humanities
1 INTRODUCTION: "And I am silent, because I am a Russian": Internalized Anti Semitism in Isaac Babel's Short Fiction "In the stories of Isaac Babel, we have the densest picture in all of Russian literature of the Jew between two worlds." Alice Stone Na khimovsky, Russian Jewish Literature and Identity "My life is spent fighting this man." -Isaac Babel, handwritten on a portrait of himself sent to his sister "Crossing the River Zbrucz" [ !"#"$%& '"#"( )*#+'] describes the Red Army's Polish campaign during the Russian Civil War. In this short, impressionistic piece, the narrator crosses the border from Ukraine to Poland with General Budyonny's First Cavalry of the Soviet Red Army and is billeted with a family in Novograd Volynsk. He depicts the household: In the quarters to which I am assigned I find a pregnant woman and two red haired Jews with thin necks, and a third Jew who is sleeping with his face to the wall and a blanket pulled ov er his head. In my room, I find ransacked closets, torn pieces of women's fur coats on the floor, human excrement, and fragments of the holy Seder plate that the Jews use once a year for Passover. (Babel 203 204) -.$%/+ *"#"0"--+1 /"-23-+ -. %45"&"--%6 0-" 75.#43#" 3 &5+$ #8/3$ "5#""5 9 4%-7303 :";03; 4#"436 9<34, +7#85:39= 9 >%?%5%6 3 <#347-+5:39= 7 94"-". -.$%/+ #.(5%#%'"--8" :7.@8 5 %45"&"--%6 0-" 7%0-.4", %*#8573 /"-973$ :+* -. <%?+, '"?%5"'"9736 7.? 3 '"# "<73 9%7#%5"--%6 <%9+&8, +<%4#"*?;12"69; + "5#""5 #.( 5 >%&+ -. !.9$+. (A.*"?= 262) Disgusted by his surroundings, the narrator yells at the pregnant woman to "clean up this mess" [ +*"#34"] and asks her, "How can you live like this?" [ B.7 58 >#;(-% /35"4", $%(;"5.] (Babel 204) [( A.*"?= 262)]. The two red haired Jewish men respond immediately to the narrator's order and begin to clean the room: The two Jews get up from their chairs. They hop around on their felt soles and pick up the broken pieces of porcelain from the floor. They hop around in
2 silence, like monkeys, like Japanese acrobats in a circus, their necks swelling and twisting. (Babel 204) C5. "5#"; 9-30.149; 9 0"94.. D-3 <#8>.14 -. 5%6?%'-8$ <%&%:5.$ 3 +*3#.14 %*?%073 9 <%?+, %-3 <#8>. 14 5 *"(0%?533, <% %*"(=;-3, 7.7 ;<%-E8 5 E3#7", 3$ :"3 <+$-+4 3 5"#4;49;. (A.*"?= 263) The men set up a mat on the floor for the narrator and he lies down to sleep, dreaming of violence between two officers in his unit. The reader might be surprised to discover that this narrator is Jewish himself. "Crossing the River Zbrucz" is the first story in Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry, a short story cycle about a Jewish law graduate's travels as a propaganda journalist assigned to a Cossack Red Army unit. Consideri ng the passages quoted above, a reader might easily assume the narrator to be an anti Semitic Cossack soldier, the type of soldier who historically made up Budyonny's First Cavalry unit and instigated anti Jewish pogroms. Identifying this family first and foremost as "Jews," the narrator writes of them as of a foreign people, describing a smashed Seder plate that the Jews use once a year for Passover. Not only does he speak of them and their rituals in an unfamiliar, distant tone, but he also writes moc kingly of their bodies and actions, comparing them to "monkeys" and describing their "swelling and twisting" necks. And yet, as he reveals throughout the series, the narrator is not a Cossack, but a Jew, who knows Seder plates, synagogues, and Jewish life thoroughly and personally. This thesis sets out to examine how and why Babel's Jewish narrators write of Jews both with detachment and loathing and with intimacy and love. How can a Jewish narrator write admiringly and enviously of Cossack soldiers as th ey insult and abuse him and commit violence against other Jews? How, at other times, can this same narrator speak lyrically and warmly about the Jewish world in which he was raised and feels at
3 home? What do these conflicting and contradictory dynamics s ay about Jewish Russian identity at the beginning of the twentieth century, during tumultuous times of violence and social transformation? These are all questions raised by Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry and "Childhood Stories" short story cycles and the quest ions I aim to explore in this thesis. The concept of internalized anti Semitism can help to illuminate these seemingly paradoxical dynamics. Taking my model from Sander Gilman's Jewish Self Hatred: Anti Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews (1986) the only full length study of its kind in English, I argue that looking at Babel's short stories through the lens of internalized anti Semitism can aid us in answering the aforementioned questions and in better understanding how his fiction works. In th is thesis, I apply cultural criticism, cultural history, and literary criticism to analyze internalized anti Semitism in three of Isaac Babel's short stories, "My First Goose" [ F%6 <"#586 >+9=] (1924), "Story of My Dovecote" [ G94%#3; 0%"6 >%?+*;4-3] (1925) and "The Awakening" [ !#%*+/&"-3"] (1931). Though the stories differ in their content and approaches, the narrators of all three employ popular anti Semitic perceptions of the differences between Jewish and Russian bodies and minds when writing of others or themselves. I seek to explore how Babel's narrators attempt to reconcile contradictory images and ideals of Jewish and Russian identity and masculinity coming both fr om dominant, Russian society and from within their own Jewish communities. I focus particularly on negative stereotypes of the male, Jewish body and on closely related stereotypes regarding Jewish language and discourse. In the following chapters, I use G ilman's work to elucidate Babel's fiction and, at
4 the same time, utilize Babel's stories to both confirm and complicate Gilman's notion of self hatred, with the concurrent goals of better understanding Jewish self hatred, Jewish Russian identity, and the s ocial and literary dimensions of Isaac Babel's short fiction. Most scholarship of Jewish self hatred centers on Western Europe and particularly on Germany (Gilman's work included). By applying theories of self hatred to Babel's work, we can expand and co mplicate the relevance of this model of self hatred in other geographical and political locations. Looking at self hatred and Jewish identity in a Western democracy or in Nazi Germany is certainly different from looking at internalized anti Semitism durin g the rise of Communism in Russia. This project can also augment our understanding of intellectual Jewish Russian identity, literature, and experience around the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Studying internalized anti Semitism can also teach us mo re about how oppression operates. Subjugation works best when the oppressed group also believes the myths held by the oppressor. Looking at Isaac Babel's stories can shed light on how a member of a subjugated minority experiences dominant society's negat ive stereotypes and beliefs about his own identity. Members of minorities often face these conflicting images daily and must find ways to respond, whether through rejection, internalization, or a combination of both. Isaac Babel's work illustrates how th ese conflicts can function not only sociologically or psychologically, but also literarily. A Brief Discussion of the Concept of Self Hatred In Gilman's analysis, self hatred occurs when a member of a subordinate group internalizes dominant society's neg ative judgments and images of his own group. 1 He 1 I am using the male pronoun because Gilman only writes of Jewish males. Furthermore, all the short stories I examine in this exploration center on male protagonists and narrators and their internalization of
5 explains, "Self hatred results from outsiders' acceptance of the mirage of themselves generated by their reference group that group in society which they see as defining them as a reality" (Gilman, Jewish S elf Hatred 2). In assimilating to the dominant value system, a member of a subordinate group also begins to believe that he can gain a place within dominant society. However, in order to do so, he must rid himself of the negative characteristics that the reference group associates with his group identity. To accomplish this, a "self hating" member of a minority projects these negative characteristics onto other members of his group and works to distance himself from these "negative projection[s]" (Gilman Jewish Self Hatred 270), which he now defines as wholly different from himself. For example, a Western European Jew who wishes to (and believes it possible to) transcend his place as a member of a subordinate, oppressed minority to become a functioning member of dominant, Western European society might begin to believe society's stereotype of Jews as messy, irrational, and chaotic. However, according to Gilman, a "self hating" Western European Jew will accept dominant society's stereotype, but then pro ject this myth onto another, for example, onto Eastern European Jews. This "self hating" Jew therefore affirms that he too shares in the privileged value system and believes, as the dominant Western Europeans do, that Jews are indeed messy, irrational, an d chaotic. However, he also distances himself from these damaging characteristics, claiming that it is Eastern European Jews, not Western European Jews like himself, who embody this stereotype. He thereby frees himself from what he sees Western European society to judge as essentially negative about "Jews" and opens up the possibility of stereotypes of the Jewish male's de masculization. Jewish females' experie nces of internalized anti Semitism share some aspects of Jewish males' experiences but are also complicated by other factors. This is currently an understudied phenomenon and would be a productive area for further research.
6 becoming a viable member of Western European culture. Nevertheless, scholars and popular authors debate the very existence of self hatred as a social phenomenon. Even the authors whose work I employ in this study do not agree on a basic definition of self hatred. In The Jewish Century Russian historian Yuri Slezkine writes: The concept self hate' assumes that the unrelenting worship of one's ethnic kin is a natural h uman condition. To adopt the term for a moment, all national intelligentsias are self hating insofar as they are by definition dissatisfied with their nation's performance relative to other nations or according to any number of doctrinal standards. (165) Slezkine contends that what others may categorize as "self hatred" is, in his evaluation, simply a form of critique of one's own culture. By placing the term in the context of intelligentsia, he also implies that this critique originates from within the intelligentsia's own nation and could be a constructive critical analysis and possibly the first step toward the improvement of one's condition. By examining internalized anti Semitism in Isaac Babel's work, I do not mean to say that any criticism by a mem ber of a subordinate, minority, or oppressed group of his own community is a sign of "self hatred" or of oppression. As I use the term in this thesis, Jewish self hatred, or internalized anti Semitism, is rather a sign and result of structural inequalitie s present within a society. Concerning Babel's fiction, I particularly refer to the power dynamics present in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Russian society, in which Russians make up the dominant, privileged group and Jews, among others, are situated as a subordinate minority. Legally, economically, and culturally, Russians (as any dominant group) stand to benefit and Jews tend to suffer from these systemic inequalities. The acknowledgment of self hatred as a phenomenon,
7 particularly as Gil man describes it and as I use it in this study, does not mean that Jews must interpret their own community to be perfect and ideal, lest they suffer from "self hatred." Rather, internalized anti Semitism refers to the dynamic process of how a member of a minority group attempts to cope with these structural inequalities. The negative images present in "self hatred" do not originate from within one's own "nation," but must come from the outside, from a privileged group. These negative stereotypes are ther efore not merely "criticisms," but images that have cultural weight, as the value system from which they come is privileged in society. Therefore, a member of a minority is, in a way, coerced to internalize these images if he wants to function in dominant society. In analyzing Babel's work in particular, literary scholar Zsuzsa Hetnyi similarly doubts the general applicability of self hatred. She argues that self hatred cannot be seen in Babel's fiction as a whole, instead attributing it to the immature outlook of a child in the "Childhood Stories": It is important to emphasize that self hatred is always a sign of the author's doubts. Self hatred is an issue that certainly comes through only in the child narrative. The overwhelming burden of Jewish lif e, the suffocating atmosphere of the ghetto, and the excitingly different qualities of gentiles can only be depicted authentically and without didacticism from the impartial perspective of the child. Antagonistically opposing and irreconcilable cultures c an coexist peacefully only in the mind of the child who is still unfettered by the necessity of making his choices. (Hetnyi 254) Hetnyi therefore views self hatred as the result of the still undeveloped mind of a child who has not yet had to make diffic ult choices about his or her allegiances and identity. Though she and Slezkine demonstrate valid concerns with the complexities and difficulties of defining "self hatred," they both miss out on the most essential dynamics of "Jewish self hatred" as a feat ure of internalized oppression.
8 Contrary to Hetnyi's analysis, I also do not believe internalized anti Semitism to be characteristic of a child's underdeveloped or weak point of view. As I argue throughout this thesis, internalized anti Semitism also str uctures Babel's Red Cavalry series, in which the narrator is an experienced adult. Furthermore, the dynamics of internalized anti Semitism that I examine in "Story of My Dovecote" and "The Awakening," both of which feature child protagonists and narrators do not present, as Hetnyi writes, "antagonistically opposing and irreconcilable cultures" that "coexist peacefully." Rather, the narrator of the "Childhood Stories" constantly struggles with what he feels to be irreconcilable and contradictory ideals o f Russian and Jewish society, which he does not interpret to "coexist peacefully" whatsoever. Self hatred is therefore not "always a sign of the author's doubts": it is, instead, as I argue in Babel's case, a sign of the power imbalances and structural in equalities present in the author's world, and which he utilizes to construct his fictions. Accordingly, though Gilman uses the term "Jewish self hatred," I will refer to this model as "internalized anti Semitism." "Self hatred" carries a negative connota tion and seems to imply that the phenomenon arises simply from within the individual person. I prefer the latter term because it emphasizes that this concept refers to a Jewish person's internalization of dominant society's anti Semitic images and ideals: these negative images do not just occur because of a variety of personal or psychological problems, but rather develop as a result of society's asymmetrical power structures. Internalized anti Semitism begins externally in dominant society and then becom es internal for the subordinate group and its members. This movement from outside to within causes the identity struggle that I find present in Babel's work: a struggle that results from
9 attempting to reconcile two societies' (i.e. Jewish and Russian) opp osing stereotypes and values while living simultaneously in both and feeling fully at home in neither. Essential Context: A Look at the Jewish Experience in Russia A brief look at the Jewish experience in Russia can help to put Babel's life and fiction in context. Before 1772, Jews were not legally permitted to reside in the Russian Empire. This changed during the 1772 1795 Partitions of Poland, during which Russia annexed Lithuania, White Russia, and the Polish part of western Ukraine, and with it, the majority of Poland's Jewish population. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Jewish population in this area increased from less than half a million to over five million (Bartal 41). Israel Bartal explains that during the late eighteenth and ear ly nineteenth century, "Russian identity began to be perceived as a combination of state, church, and czar" (63), and accordingly, both the state and popular culture perceived Jews as outsiders. The government disadvantaged Jews in myriad ways. Laws rest ricted Jewish economic activity, their admission to both civil and military service, and their civil rights. The Czar even limited where Jews could live and restricted Jewish permanent residency to the Pale of Settlement in Western Russia. The Russian E mpire also sought to intervene in and alter Jewish cultural life. Czar Nicholas II set up special, separate schools for Jews as part of "the imperial project to enlighten and reeducate the Jews in the spirit of the autocratic Russian state" (Bartal 66) an d abolished the Jewish traditional "autonomous ruling system," with which they governed their internal communities before the Partitions. Popular anti Semitism spread with the expansion of freedom of speech in the 1860s and 1870s, as Jews were portrayed i n the Russian press as members of a vast economic conspiracy to steal land and wealth from deserving Russian hands.
10 Jews not only were oppressed economically, geographically, and culturally in the Russian Empire, but faced sudden and devastating violenc e. In April 1881, a wave of pogroms broke out in Elizavetgrad in the south. This was the beginning of a series of pogroms that were to continue sporadically until April 1882. Perhaps even more frightening than the violence directed against the Jewish po pulation was the Russian government's response to the pogroms, which ranged from "indifference" to "cooperation" (Bartal 146). The trials after the pogroms reinforced the government's anti Semitic attitude, as Jews were mostly seen as guilty and deserving of the violence against them. From 1903 to 1906, further pogroms swept the Pale of Settlement. In 1905 in Odessa, a political riot in response to the release of the October Manifesto led to a particularly bloody pogrom. This pogrom is depicted in Babel 's "Story of My Dovecote," as analyzed in Chapter Two. In addition to pogroms of this time period, numerous Jews were unexpectedly expelled from their homes in nighttime raids by authorities. Before the pogroms, during the second half of the nineteenth c entury, many non traditionalist Russian Jews looked hopefully toward the outside, non Jewish world. Many Maskilim, adherents to the ideas of the Haskalah, the "Jewish enlightenment" movement, believed that Jews had much to gain from becoming full, individ ual, integrated citizens in the modern, centralized states forming at the time. This was particularly important in the world of literature, as the Jewish Russian press began to develop in Odessa and many Maskilim "saw acquisition of Russian culture as the key to the Jews' acceptance into Russian society and the eventual granting of civil rights" (Sicher, Style and Structure 17). Similarly, "early Jewish socialists assumed that the
11 specific problems of Jewish workers would automatically be solved if and wh en an overall political change occurred in the Russian empire" (Bartal 117). Jews joined general socialist movements, often leaving behind their particularist, Jewish concerns. As Bartal describes, the pogroms and Czar Alexander III's explicitly anti Jew ish policy "forced many Jewish radicals to develop a national Jewish consciousness" (55). Whereas before the pogroms, many Jewish radicals and progressives had aligned themselves with non Jewish mass political movements, and had even felt that particularl y Jewish political movements were antithetical to their populist ideologies, the pogroms obliged them to face their Jewish identities. 2 Steven Cassedy writes that, as the violence spread, "even the most extreme anti Jewish' Jewish radicals came to see th e pogroms as a threat and were eventually forced to come to terms with their own Jewish identity" (131). In many ways, as Jews were attacked and anti Jewish sentiment was spreading throughout the Russian Empire, these radicals no longer had the freedom to choose whether they identified as Jewish or not or whether Jewish particularism fit into their socialist ideologies. In order to counter this violence directed particularly against Jews, these radicals had to consider their own Jewish particularity. Th is was the world into which Isaac Babel was born. Before his birth in 1894, Jewish culture in Europe had experience a sort of renaissance. Yiddish and Hebrew literature thrived. Many of these "enlightened" Jews began to identify with their host countrie s and host cultures. As aforementioned, many Maskilim believed that taking on 2 An illustrative example can be found in Steven Cassedy's "Russian Jewish Intellectuals Confront the Pogroms of 1881: The Example of Razsvet.'" This article traces the response to the 1881 1882 pogroms in a politically moderate, Russian language, Jewish newspaper. Through looking a t only a few months' worth of articles, Cassedy is able to trace an explicit move from very pro government sentiment, including grief over Czar Alexander II's assassination and hope for the reign of Alexander III, to protest against the government's Jewish policy, to "an outright call for massive emigration as a response to anti Jewish violence" (1994:133). Shortly after the pogroms, Razsvet even became a leading Palestinophilistic newspaper.
12 their host country's culture would lead to civil emancipation and better lives for themselves and their families. However, the violence of the 1881 1882 pogroms began a process of disillusionment with these positive views of assimilation. Russia's Jews found that even as they tried to conform to the world of dominant society, they were still unwelcome. Particularly Jewish socialist movements and emigration movements began to f orm and to become more popular as the Maskilim learned that they could not trust the Russian government as they had previously hoped. Babel's conflicted experience of his Jewishness should be looked at in context of both the pro assimilationist outlook of the early Maskilim and the disappointment they faced after the outbreak of pogroms and anti Jewish violence: their desire to gain from becoming a part of dominant society and their realization that they were not always free to choose who Russian society c onsidered them to be. "The Jew on Horseback Who is Not Quite a Jew": A Short Biography of Isaac Babel Isaac Emmanuelovich Babel was born on July 13, 1894 into a lower middle class Jewish family in Odessa. His birthplace, a port city on th e Black Sea, was notorious for its diversity, cosmopolitanism, and carefree, mercantile attitude. Odessa was also known as the most Jewish of Russian cities. Though the city had a large Jewish population and served as a hub of Jewish culture, Jewish chil dren tended to live far more assimilated lifestyles there than in the shtetls elsewhere in the Russian Empire. Babel received both a Jewish and a secular education: he attended Jewish school as a child and continued private lessons in Hebrew and Talmud in to his teens, and also attended the Russian Nicholas 1 Commercial School in Odessa and studied French language and literature (Nakhimovsky 76). Though he studied Yiddish literature on his own, he wrote his first
13 stories in French. Unable to attend univer sity in Odessa because of the numerus clausus legal quotas that limited Jewish enrollment in Russian schools, Babel earned an economics degree in 1915 from the Kiev Institute of Financial and Business Studies. In 1916, he escaped the Pale of Settlement a nd moved illegally to Petrograd to pursue a career as a writer. While in Petrograd, Babel met Maxim Gorky, an author who would become his mentor and a favored writer of the early Soviet government. Gorky helped Babel to publish his stories in Petrograd publications and printed Babel's work in his own journal. He encouraged Babel to "soak up experience in the real world" (Nakhimovsky 77), and Babel followed the writer's advice by joining the army. He served on the Rumanian front in 1917 and published a series of four short stories about his experience. After returning to Petrograd, he worked for Narkompos (the People's Commissariat for Education) and served a controversial stint in the Cheka, the first Soviet secret police. In 1920, Babel traveled thro ugh Ukraine and Poland as a war correspondent for the propaganda newspaper of Budyonny's First Cavalry. During this service, he saw areas of Jewish settlement ravaged most severely by civil war pogroms. Though the White Army, Poles, and partisan bands we re responsible for most of the destruction of the pogroms, "of the entire Red Army, the worst offenders were in Babel's First Cavalry" (Nakhimovsky 78). In an attempt to hide his Jewish identity, he called himself Kirill Vasilevich Lyutov the same pseud onym used by the narrator of his Red Cavalry stories. He kept a detailed diary on this trip, upon which he based these stories. In 1923, Babel began to publish excerpts from Red Cavalry as well as stories from another cycle called The Odessa Stories a s eries of mock epics about the exploits of
14 pre Revolutionary Jewish gangsters in Odessa. Starting in 1925, he began writing and publishing stories from the semi autobiographical "Childhood Stories" series, about a Jewish boy's coming of age in early twenti eth century Odessa, which he intended to eventually gather into a book. His work was, at first, well received by Soviet critics, and he was granted special trips abroad and other Soviet privileges reserved for favored writers. However, in the 1920's, Bab el's life was also shaken by a number of difficult personal and political changes. His father died in 1923, his first wife left for France in 1925, and his sister and mother also emigrated to the West in 1926. As censorship increased and the political cl imate in the Soviet Union became more repressive, Babel's writing became more and more sparse. He worked on film scripts and plays to make money, but stopped publishing prose fiction. He traveled abroad to visit his family and tried to convince them to m ove back to the Soviet Union with him, but they refused. Though he had the opportunity to escape, he did not want to leave Russia, as he wrote in a letter to his family, it was "his native soil" and "only Russia gave him his material and his language" (Si cher, Style and Structure 22). In 1936, Stalin reminded writers of the dangers of silence, as "silence was also a form of criticism" (Sicher, Style and Structure 23). Yet, Babel could not be coerced to write what Soviet authorities considered ideologica lly sound and stylistically acceptable prose. At a writer's congress in 1934, he "declared himself a master of the art of silence, a state spurred by his hypertrophy' of respect for the reader" (Nakhimovsky 88). However, his silence was soon made compul sory. On May 15, 1939, Babel was arrested on ambiguous charges, and on January 27, 1940 he was shot and killed. As he was being taken away by the secret police, he uttered his last words: "They didn't let me finish"
15 (Nakhimovsky 89; Sicher, Style and Str ucture 25). His diaries, unfinished manuscripts, and notes were confiscated and have never been recovered. Throughout his life, Babel remained conflicted with regards to his Jewish identity. As Alice Stone Nakhimovsky observes, his diary reveals h is contradictory feelings toward the Jews he met on his travels with the First Cavalry. She writes, "While he identified with Jews privately, publicly he avoided an open Jewish identification; his pseudonym was Russian. When his Cossacks oppressed Jews h e saw himself on both sides, both as victimizer and victim" (Nakhimovsky 78). Efraim Sicher confirms this analysis of Babel's diary, pointing out, "both the Cossack soldiers and the Jews whom they pillage and rape are spoken of as our side' (nashi')" ( S tyle and Structure 85). In his diary, he is moved to tears by meeting and connecting with other Jews and also watches silently as his Cossack companions torture Jewish families: writing of a time when the Cossacks forced a Jewish family to cook and clean for them on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, a holy day during which work is prohibited, Babel writes, "And I am silent, because I am a Russian" while later recounting the event as "torturous" (Nakhimovsky 80). Similar sentim ents survive in his later letters to family members abroad. Nonetheless, Babel's writing was remarkable in its time and place for its Jewish content. Nakhimovsky notes: One of the greatest prose writers of twentieth century Russia, Babel was also the mos t Jewish. Given his time and place, the distinct Jewish line in his work is unusual. A writer of his generation, oriented, as he was, toward the Russian language and the Russian reader, would have been far more likely to ignore the Jewish world or treat it with derision. (71) His prose is, therefore, a particularly salient site for exploring Jewish Russian identity and internalized anti Semitism in early twentieth century Russia.
16 In addition to addressing his Jewishness, "No discussion of Babel can get far without considering, however briefly, the special nature of his style" (Nakhimovsky 72). Babel wrote meticulously and exactingly. His style is simultaneously poetic and journalistic, and he was known to work on a four page short story for years. Ef raim Sicher recounts in Style and Structure in the Prose of Isaak Babel': Babel' would put aside the first redaction of a story for months or even years before going back to it with a fresh mind. Then would begin the soul destroying task of eliminating su perfluous words and weeding out platitudes. This forced labor,' as Babel described it to Paustovsky, was equivalent to excavating Mount Everest. That it exhausted Babel' mentally and physically can be believed when we read complaints of head pains, nerv ous disorders and fatigue in Babel's correspondence. (26 27) Sicher illustrates that Babel was a purposeful writer and editor of his own work. I feel confident, therefore, building this thesis upon close readings of Babel's original texts. His philosop hy of the value of concise prose indicates that no repetitions in Babel's prose should be written off as accidents of a careless writer. As he reportedly spent years eliminating "superfluous words" from his fiction, we can be sure that, in Babel's mind, e very word serves a purpose. Why These Three Stories? Though many of Babel's stories deal with issues of internalized anti Semitism, the Jewish body, and Jewish language and discourse, I have chosen to focus on "My First Goose," "Story of My Dovecote," and "The Awakening," because all three serve as partial initiation stories into dominant society. In "My First Goose," the narrator tries to cross over into the Cossack community of his army unit, in "Story of My Dovecote" the narrator passes an entrance exa m and begins to attend a Russian school, and in "The Awakening," the narrator escapes from his Jewish violin lessons to experience Russian outdoor play and, with the help of a Russian mentor, is introduced to the world of
17 Russian language and discourse. I n all of these stories, the narrators achieve some level of acceptance into Russian society, but their initiations are never complete: something always keeps them from moving completely from Jewish to Russian society. Accordingly, as these narrators float and struggle in the liminal spaces between two societies and cultures, they are forced to confront instability and inevitable contradictions. These three stories therefore serve as ideal sites to examine internalized anti Semitism and Jewish Russian iden tity. A Note on Translation Throughout this exploration, I refer to both the original Russian texts of Babel's short stories as well as to Peter Constantine's 2002 English translations as printed in the 2005 paperback collection, The Complete Works of Is aac Babel (ed. Nathalie Babel). I have chosen to use this English translation because this collection is the first publication of Babel's complete works in any language and is also currently the most widely available commercial printing of his works in Am erica. In the following chapters, I cite Constantine's translation and note where I disagree with his decisions.
18 CHAPTER ONE: Negative Projections of the Feminized Jewish Male in "My First Goose" "Of all the strange phenomena produced by society, cer tainly one of the most puzzling is self hatred. Indeed, when the history of Western attitudes toward those perceived as different, whether black or Jew or homosexual, is studied, the very idea of black, Jewish, or homosexual self hatred seems an oxymoron. Why hate yourself when there are so many willing to do it for you! But the ubiquitousness of self hatred cannot be denied. And it has shaped the self awareness of those treated as different perhaps more than they themselves have been aware." -Sander Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred "It is another matter with the Jewish girl attracted to a Cossack soldier, of whom Babel writes [in his diary], "who can understand her soul better than I can?" -Alice Stone Nakhimovsky, Russian Jewish Literature and Identity While Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry series explores varied themes of war, revolution, and change, it is most of all about identity. The narrator, a Jew and intellectual, is stationed as a propaganda journalist with a hostile Cossack Red Cavalry unit and is forced to confront many aspects of his identity and values. In wanting to be accepted by the Cossacks as a full member of his Red Army unit, he struggles with identifying as a Russian and a Communist, while also b eing unable (and in some ways, unwilling) to completely distance himself from his Jewish past and the Jewish victims of pogroms he encounters. Though not the first in the Red Cavalry cycle, "My First Goose" [ F%6 <"#586 >+9=] is the story of the narrator 's initiation into the Cossack community of his regiment. Upon first arriving at the army camp, the narrator is rejected for his intellectual, and Jewish, identity. 3 The physically powerful Cossacks mock the narrator's 3 Although no direct mention of the narrator's Jewishness is made in "My First Goose," the intellectual, passive, and humanitarian qualities of the narrator are unambiguously coupled with his Jewishness throughout the Red Cavalry series. The narrator's Jewish identity is, however, implicitly referred to in "My First Go ose," such as when the narrator must eat pork and thereby break Jewish dietary laws and break with his Jewish identity in order to join the Cossack community.
19 spectacles and his learnedness, whi ch they interpret as signs of bodily weakness. In their eyes, the narrator's law degree and literacy render him effeminate and ineffective in times of war, during which they value masculine brutality above all else. In order to be accepted by his unit, t he narrator commits violence against a woman and a goose as the Cossacks watch. Yet, as I set out to prove in this chapter, the narrator's violent actions are directed not only against the goose and the woman, but also against himself. After accepting th e dominant group's myths about the negative nature of specific (and related) features of his identity, such as his intellectuality, lack of physical prowess, and associated femininity, the narrator projects these characteristics onto the goose and the woma n. By acting violently toward them, the narrator, in a literary manifestation of Gilman's model of self hatred, both asserts his assimilation to the Cossacks' value system and declares that he no longer possesses those characertistics which kept him outsi de the Cossacks' community. However, his assimilation is never complete. The concept of internalized anti Semitism helps to break down how this rite of passage effectively works and to explain how the narrator moves from being an outsider to being invite d to take part in Cossack society. In this chapter, through a close reading of the original Russian text, I will demonstrate how Gilman's conception of self hatred can shed light on the narrator's actions toward the goose and the woman. To do so, I wil l take a closer look at his model of negative projection and relate it to pertinent scholarship on gender identity formation. After further exploring internalized anti Semitism and gender in the abstract, I will illustrate how the story's narrator interna lizes the Cossacks' negative stereotypes about his body and mind and comes to feel emasculated in their eyes. I will then show how the
20 goose and woman function as symbols of the narrator's own femininized traits, and how he works to distance himself from these "feminine" aspects of his own Jewish identity. Finally, I will close this exploration by discussing the narrator's inability to fully conform to Cossack ideals. A Closer Look at Sander Gilman's Model of Negative Projection As mentioned previousl y, internalized anti Semitism begins when Jewish people accept dominant society's negative stereotypes of certain "Jewish" characteristics as true. For "self hating Jews," belief in these stereotypes serves as the first step of assimilation to dominant so ciety's value system and toward gaining a place within that society. Gilman writes, "Self hatred arises when the mirages of stereotypes are confused with realities within the world, when the desire for acceptance forces the acknowledgement of one's differ ence," ( Jewish Self Hatred 4). Accordingly, this process does not only entail the internalization of particular stereotypes, but also requires another even more basic step: in believing these stereotypes, a Jew must also accept the very idea that Jews are fundamentally different from the majority, whether in character, body, mind, or something else entirely. This difference does not simply mean dissimilarity or diversity, but as Melvin Konner writes in The Jewish Body "In all the places where they lived as outsiders, different usually meant better than Jews,' at least in the eyes of the dominant people" (58). In this case, the Jew experiencing internalized anti Semitism also perceives this difference as negative and even damaging. According to Gilman from among the totality of dominant society's negative stereotypes about Jews, the "self hating" Jew pinpoints particular "Jewish" characteristics that he interprets as the core of his difference and the cause of his rejection by the
21 majority culture. H e writes: For if the power group is correct in defining their Otherness and by definition it must be, or all attempts at identification with it are pointless then there truly must be something within them that is inherently different. In projecting this Otherness onto the world, they select some fragment of that category in which they have been included and see in that the essence of Otherness, an essence that is separate from their own definition of themselves and embodies all of the qualities projected onto them by the power group. (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 3) Thus, the "self hating" Jew identifies certain traits ascribed to Jews by dominant society as the "essence of Otherness": he begins to define these as the attributes that prevent him from being able to function within the dominant group. In order to dissociate himself from this "essence of Otherness," he assigns all of these qualities to another member of his group, whom he transforms into the ultimate Other. As Gilman describes, he must do eve rything in his power to separate and differentiate himself from this "negative projection" so as to define himself as a viable member of dominant society who does not share in these negative, "Jewish" traits. In "The Construction of Gender in Yiddish Dev otional Literature," Chava Weissler offers an analysis of gender identity formation that complements Gilman's model of negative projection. Her model is particularly relevant to the discussion of internalized anti Semitism in Babel's "My First Goose," as the narrator's negative projection is undoubtedly built upon cultural conceptions of gender: he accepts the Cossacks' interpretation of his intellectualism, Jewishness, and physical powerlessness as signs of femininity and projects these (his) "feminine" t raits onto the story's only two female characters, the goose and the woman. 4 She writes: Gender definitions within a culture have two aspects. First, they are social categories, with "men" and "women" referring to groupings of real people whose 4 I am not referring to the goose's biological sex, which is irrelevant. As will be further e xplained, the goose acts as a symbolic female.
22 social ro les prescribe the activities and the modes of interaction appropriate for each sex. But second, "male" and "female," "man" and "woman" are also symbolic categories The reflexive process of the creation of identity always proceeds with reference to some other, someone who is "not me" or "not us." One's own identity and that of the other are developed in tandem. Each gender could symbolize to the other traits that it denied in itself, or that it feared, or abhorred, or coveted, or desired. And what men and women symbolize to each other is inextricably intertwined with the actual relations of power and powerlessness, hierarchy and subordination, in which they live out their interactions. (Weissler 51) Weissler's description of gender identity formation i s notably similar to Gilman's discussion of how a member of a cultural (or racial) minority attempts to construct his identity in response to dominant society. In both models, a person constructs his/her identity "in tandem" and in reference to an Other, whom he/she defines as different from himself/herself. According to both authors, this Other comes to represent traits that the group "denied in itself, or that it feared, or abhorred, or coveted, or desired." Weissler's words help to further elucidate G ilman's model of negative projection. Furthermore, her description demonstrates how dominant society can consider Jewish men to be feminized and how the narrator of "My First Goose" can symbolically project these "feminine" aspects of his Jewish identity onto Others. Regardless, transitioning to the privileged group is not easy. This group not only possesses myths about the different nature of members of subordinate groups, but also works to create the illusion that "these categories are immutable" (Gilma n, Jewish Self Hatred 4). As Gilman explains, there exists a "liberal fantasy that anyone is welcome to share in the power of the reference group if he abides by the rules that define that group. But these rules are the very definition of the Other. The Other comprises precisely those who are not permitted to share power within the society" ( Jewish Self Hatred 2). Though the "self hating" Jew may create and define himself as different from this "negative
23 projection," Gilman argues that the dominant grou p will always suspect the Jew of hidden, innate "Jewish" characteristics, which he can never fully escape. On the other side of the liberal fantasy lies the "hidden qualification of the internalized reference group" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 2): "the mo re you are like me, the more I know the true value of my power, which you wish to share, and the more I am aware that you are but a shoddy counterfeit, an outsider" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 2). Consequently, the "self hating Jew" is forever stuck in "t he unresolvable dichotomy of the double bind" (3), and as Gilman sums up, "The fragmentation of identity that results is the articulation of self hatred" ( Jewish Self Hatred 3). Internalized Myths and Values in "My First Goose" Just as Gilman writes of sub ordinate groups who must live within a world defined and interpreted by dominant society, the intellectual, Jewish narrator of the Red Cavalry series is forced to see himself in light of the Cossacks' overpowering physicality. Alice Stone Nakhimovsky writ es, "In the[se] stories, Cossack vitality is opposed to Jewish otherworldliness, intellectuality, and weakness" (71). The narrator feels a simultaneous disgust for and attraction to the Cossacks' way of life and the ease with which they commit violence. As an outsider living within their community, the narrator, who is more at home with books than on the battlefield, is forced to judge himself against their large, strong bodies and veneration for violence. Nakhimovsky writes, "The Cossack ethos is physic al and instinctive as opposed to mental" (89), and accordingly, the intellectual narrator finds himself to be inadequate within their value system. He is unable to freely commit violence and lacks their vibrant physicality. The story's opening immediately and explicitly establishes the narrator's
24 veneration of Cossack bodies. The very first line of "My First Goose" reads, "Savitsky, the commander of the Sixth Division, rose when he saw me, and I was taken aback by the beauty of his gigantic body" (Babel 2 30) [ H.53E736, -.'&35 :"94=, 594.?, (.53&"5 0"-;, 3 ; +&353?9; 7#.9%4" >3>.-497%>% ">% 4"?a (A.*"?= 287)]. He goes on to describe the commander's unifom, medals, boots, and large body, so powerful that when he rises, he "split[s] [a] hut in two like a banner splitting the sky" (Babel 230) [#.(#"(.? 3(*+ <%<%?.0, 7.7 :4.-&.#4 #.(#"(."4 -"*% (A.*"?= 287)]. Savitsky, with his formidable body and the military accolades on his uniform, comes to represent an ideal of Cossack physicality: an ideal that the narrat or unambigiously admires as he calls attention to its "beauty." The narrator does not simply find Cossack bodies beautiful, but marvels at them because he sees their bodies as innately different from his own. The first question Savitsky asks the narrato r upon meeting him is whether he can read and write. He responds, "Yes, I can,' I answered, bristling with envy at the steel and bloom of his youth. I graduated in law from the University of Petersburg'" (Babel 231) [ -I#.0%4-86, -%45"43? ; (.53&+; /"?"(+ 3 E5"4.0 J4%6 1-%943, -7.-&3&.4 <#.5 !"4"#*+#>97%>% +-35"#934"4. (A.*"?= 288)]. In this exchange, the narrator's intellectual identity is directly contrasted with Savitsky's body. His declaration of his lite racy and law degree signs of his mental abilities are coupled with his "envy" of the Cossack commander's youthful and strong physicality. Intellectualism and physical prowess are set up as opposing values, and the narrator's explicit admiration and envy o f Savitsky's body imply that he sees his own body as different from the Cossacks' whom
25 he encounters. 5 Savitsky responds by mocking his intellectual identity, pointing out the narrator's glasses, and threatening, "Here you get hacked to pieces just for we aring glasses! So, you think you can live with us, huh?" (Babel 231) [ 4+4 #"/+4 (. %'73. !%/35":= 9 -.03, :4% ?=? (A.*"?= 288)]. The narrator's glasses serve as a sign of his intellectualism, and this intellectualism is linked to his inadequate physi cal body. 6 In envying Savitsky's body, the narrator internalizes the Cossacks' value of physicality and feels his intellectualism and associated weak body to be deficient. The narrator's intellectualism is connected not only with his insufficient body, but also with a lack of masculinity. Sicher writes, "The narrator, whose own masculine prowess is questioned in the story, envies the violent sensuality of the mighty Cossack commander" ( Style and Structure 39). After registering his stay with Savitsky, he walks over with the quartermaster to the camp to find somewhere to sleep. Just like the commander, the quartermaster ridicules the narrator for wearing glasses, saying "A man of high distinguishings they'll chew up and spit out but ruin a lady, yes, t he most cleanest lady, and you're the darling of the fighters" (Babel 231) [ K"?%5"7 589:">% %4?3'3; 3( -">% (&"9= &+:. 5%-. L 39<%#4= 58 &.0+, 9.0+1 '394"-=7+1 &.0+, 4%>&. 5.0 %4 *%6E%5 ?.97. (A.*"?= 288)]. With this one sentence, the quartermaster establishes the community's value system; according to the Cossacks' worldvie w, a law 5 As Gilman writes in an article on popular perceptions of Jews in the military: "The construction of the Jewish body in the West is absolutely linked to the underlying ideology of anti Semitism, to the view t hat the Jew is inherently different" ("The Jewish Body: A Foot note" 223). Of course, the question of whether Russia should be considered a part of "the West" is a complicated and long debated one. However, as Gilman's sentiment is manifested in this sto ry itself, this quote can aid in the understanding and contextualization of Babel's text, regardless. 6 Of course, glasses do point to a physical flaw. They are not only a symbol of the narrator's intellectual identity, but also illustrate that the narrat or has become so tied to the intellectual world that a part of his physical body his eyes has suffered in accordance and that he now needs glasses to see. In the Cossacks' worldview, glasses are a sign that intellectual pursuits disable and are in contras t with one's physical pursuits.
26 degree is worthless, or even reprehensible, but the desire and ability to rape a virgin is invaluable and laudable. T he Cossacks' respect for violent physicality is intimately tied to their idea of masculinity. Just as Weissler's model of gender identity construction contends, the Cossacks' understanding of masculinity sees men as totally distinct from and absolutely powerful over women. Since men are defined as violent, physical creatures that disparage women, and the narrator lacks this violen t, physical prowess, he becomes feminized in the eyes of the Cossacks. The feminization of the Jewish male is not unique to Babel's fiction. On the contrary, the "association between the Jewish male body and womanliness has a long history in European thou ght" (Pellegrini 113) and has functioned as a central stereotype of Jewish males in the West since at least the Middle Ages (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 74 75). Addressing what Weissler would call the "symbolic" categories of male and female, cultural crit ic and religion scholar Daniel Boyarin writes: Historically, the Jewish male is, from the point of view of dominant European culture, a sort of woman.I am not claiming a set of characteristics, traits, behaviors that are essentially female but a set of pe rformances that are culturally read as nonmale within a given historical culture. ("Masada or Yavneh?" 306) Boyarin's assertion can be seen at work in "My First Goose": the Cossacks "read" the narrator's developed mind and resulting underdeveloped body as nonmale. The emasculation of Jewish males within dominant, European cultures has manifested itself differently over time, from the medieval stereotype of Jewish male menstruation to beliefs that the Jewish male suffers from traditionally "feminine" ailme nts, such as hysteria. Regardless of the particulars, "the feminization of the Jewish male body became so frequent a theme [in popular and scientific' literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries] that Jewishness more precisely, the Jewishn ess of Jewish
27 men became as much a category of gender as of race." (Pelligrini 108) The stereotype of the Jewish male as a type of female evolved out of varied beliefs in dominant, Christian, European thought about religion, race, gender, and culture. Yet one site of Christian, European culture was particularly important for the development of this myth: the gendered dynamics of the ideal family and home. Weissler writes, "the ideal for a man in Ashkenazic society was to devote his life to the study of t he Torah, supported by his wife" (53). Accordingly, gender roles of many Jewish households were often reversed in the eyes of dominant, Christian culture the woman went out into the world as the man stayed home and devoted himself to studying Jewish law (Boyarin, "Justify My Love" 132). In this stereotype of the feminized Jewish male, we can again see a significant association between femininity and intellectualism. Because the Jewish male reads, writes, and studies as his main occupation, he does not a dequately take part in the physical world and is therefore emasculated by dominant society, just as the intellectual narrator in "My First Goose" is seen as feminized and physically inadequate in the eyes of the Cossacks. While the narrator admires the Cos sacks' bodies, they mock and reject his intellectual identity. The quartermaster introduces him to the soldiers by ridiculing him, sarcastically saying that they must accept the narrator to live with them with "no funny business, please, because this man has suffered on the fields of learning!" (Babel 231) [ 3 *"( >?+<%94"5, <%4%0+ '4% J4%4 '"?%5"7 <%94#.&.5:36 <% +'"-%6 '.943 (A.*"?= 288)]. Intellectual "suffering" is clearly not the kind of "suffering" these soldiers value. Rather, the narrator's lear nedness serves as the very reason why they should scorn him. The narrator salutes the group of Cossacks, and in response, a young soldier throws the
28 narrator's trunk of manuscripts and clothing into the street and farts at him: I lifted my hand to my cap and saluted the Cossacks. A young fellow with long, flaxen hair and a wonderful Ryazan face walked up to my trunk and threw it out into the street. Then he turned his backside toward me, and with uncommon dexterity began emitting shameless sounds. (Babel 231) <#3?%/3? #+7+ 7 7%(8#=7+ 3 %4&.? '"94= 7.(.7.0. F%?%&%6 <.#"-= 9 ?=-;-80 539;'30 5%?%9%0 3 <#"7#.9-80 #;(.-9730 ?3E%0 <%&%:"? 7 0%"0+ 9+-&'7+ 3 58*#%93? ">% (. 5%#%4.. !%4%0 %<%5"#-+?9; 7% 0-" (.&%0 3 9 %9%*"--%6 9-%#%57%6 94.? 3(&.5.4= <%948 &-8" (5+73. (A.*"?= 288) Sicher interprets, "the first act of the Cossacks is to kick the intellectual's suitcase of manuscripts, his synecdochal identity, out of the courtyard" (Sicher, "Jewishness of Babel" 103). The young Cossack's reaction to the na rrator's salute represents an unequivocal rejection of his intellectual identity. Furthermore, the young Cossack's actions emasculate the narrator: he watches passively as the blonde fellow insults him and damages his possessions in front of other Cossack s, who joyfully shout and cheer for the Ryazan faced young man. In addition to portraying the Cossacks' denunciation of intellectualism, this passage illustrates the narrator's complicated attitude toward his rejection. In Style and Structure in the Prose of Isaak Babel', Efraim Sicher writes, "Ironically, the narrator emphasizes the Cossacks' condemnation by speaking of his own degradation, and without disguising his admiration for the Ryazan face of the young lad making obscene gestures at him" (87). Th e narrator depicts the details of his humiliation and also positively describes the soldier who humiliates him as having "long, flaxen hair" and "a wonderful Ryazan face." Notably, he emphasizes the Cossack's blonde hair and Russian face, features contrar y to the image of the stereotypical Jew with "beady (small), closely set eyes; a large hooked nose; big protruding ears; a set of wet, bulbous protruding lips;
29 dark curly hair" (Konner 82). 7 The narrator admires the Cossacks even as they are rejecting him Though, as an intellectual and Jew, he is not welcome in their world, he is still attracted to it and desires to become a part of it. Just as Gilman writes that self hatred "results from outsiders' acceptance of the mirage of themselves generated by th eir reference groupas a reality" ( Jewish Self Hatred 2), the narrator begins to internalize the Cossacks' worldview and their negative stereotypes of the Jewish male's body and mind. He sees the young fellow's body as "wonderful" and begins to perceive h is own body as inadequate and feminized. Negative Projection and Acceptance After crawling on his hands and knees to pick up the manuscripts and torn clothes that had fallen out of his now damaged trunk, the narrator asserts himself to the Cossacks. At first, he tries to read a newspaper, but finds himself unable to as Cossacks step over his legs to distract him and the young, blonde man mocks him. Lonely and hungry, the narrator tells the woman who takes care of the camp to get food for him. When she resists, he punches her in the chest and yells at her, and in front of the group, finds his own food by killing a goose, which is wandering around the yard. The narrator's strategy succeeds: the woman takes the goose's body into the kitchen to cook for hi m, and the Cossacks invite him to join in their meal and even to sleep along with them in the hayloft. Sicher interprets the narrator's actions as a symbolic fulfillment of the quartermaster's earlier command to "ruin a lady, yes, the most cleanest lady": He treads into dung the virgin white neck of a goose and sabers the landlady's 7 Interestingly, this list continues, "oily or greasy' hair and skin; short stature; a round, bulging belly, and a dark (swarthy') complexion except of course when the Jew's skin is deemed pathologically pale due to lack o f healthy outdoor activities" (Konner 82). These common stereotypes of the Jewish male's appearance are intimately tied to associations present in "My First Goose" of the Jewish male's insufficient body resulting from too much study.
30 sexual surrogate with someone else's sword' ( chuzhuyu sablyu'). Only when he behaves like the Cossacks killing, swearing and punching a woman (notably in the breast) do they accept him into their ritual communion they sit around their cooking pot like priests ( zhretsy' ) and invite him to eat with them while the landlady's goose is (literally) being cooked. ( Style and Structure 88) As Sicher argues, through his treatment of the woman and the goose, the narrator wins the Cossacks' acceptance. He shows the members of his regiment that he can use his body to commit violence and behaves "like the Cossacks" by violating the woman and "ruining" the goose, which functions as a symb olic virgin. However, these are not the only ways that the narrator's treatment of the goose and woman facilitate his transition into the Cossacks' community. A close reading of the text provides evidence that the goose and woman are not simply character s that the narrator dominates. Rather, they represent the intellectual, physically inadequate, and feminine attributes of the narrator himself. A closer look at the description of the goose illustrates its role as a symbolic virgin. When the narrator fi nds the goose, it is "placidly grooming its feathers" (Babel 232) [ *"(0;4"/-% '3943? <"#=; (A.*"?= 289)]. "Grooming," might be better translated as "cleaning," as, in the original Russian, the verb used to describe the goose's action [ '3943?] comes fro m the same root as "cleanest" [ '394"-=7+1] in the phrase "the most cleanest lady" [ 9.0+1 '394"-=7+1 &.0+]. This word connects the goose, who is cleaning its feathers, with the type of woman to which the quartermaster earlier refers: the virgin who mu st be violated. Furthermore, after the narrator kills the goose, "its white neck lay stretched out in the dung" (Babel 232) [ A"?.; :"; *8?. #.(%94?.-. 5 -.5%(" (A.*"?= 289)]. The whiteness of the goose's neck also calls forth associations of purity, vi rginity, and cleanliness, while its white neck laying in dung symbolizes the
31 "ruining" and defiling of this cleanliness. The goose, therefore, serves as the clean woman who the narrator defiles to win the acceptance of the Cossacks. The goose does n ot only function as a symbolic virgin, but particularly represents the feminine aspects of the narrator's own feminized, Jewish identity. The repetition of two significant words suggests the narrator's special connection with the goose. After the narrato r has killed the goose, the Cossacks ask him to read Lenin's speech, printed in the newspaper, aloud to them. He recites the speech, "like a triumphant deaf man" (Babel 233) [7.7 4%#/"945+1236 >?+$%6 (A.*"?= 290)], while the Cossacks listen intently and happily. The narrator describes his mood during this triumph by describing nature: "The evening wrapped me in the soothing dampness of her twilight sheets, the evening placed her motherly palms on my burning brow" (Babel 233) [ M"'"# (.5"#-+? 0"-; 5 /353 4"?=-+1 5?.>+ 9+0"#"'-8$ 95%3$ <#%948-=, 5"'"# <#3?%/3? 0.4"#3-973" ?.&%-3 7 <8?.12"0+ 0%"0+ ?*+ (A.*"?= 290)]. The word "wrapped" [ (.5"#-+?] recalls an earlier scene in the story the scene in which the woman takes the dead goose into the kitchen to cook. The woman, "her blindness and her spectacles flashing, picked up the bird, wrapped it in her apron, and hauled it to the kitchen" (Babel 232) [ *?"94; 9?"<%4%6 3 %'7.03, <%&-;?. <43E+, (.5"#-+?. "" 5 <"#"&-37 3 <%4.23?. 7 7+$-" (A.*"?= 289)]. The same word describes both the narrator and the goose: he is "wrapped" [ (.5"#-+?] in the evening's "twilight sheets," just as the dead goose is "wrapped" [ (.5"#-+?.] in the woman's apron. The last sentence of the story further links the narrator with t he goose. After being welcomed into their community, the narrator lies down to sleep with the Cossacks, their legs intertwined to warm one another. He falls asleep and dreams of women, but, as
32 he lies entangled with the soldiers, the narrator cannot full y come to terms with the violence he has commited. Constantine translates the last line of "My First Goose" as, "I dreamed and saw women in my dreams, and only my heart, crimson with murder, screeched and bled" (Babel 233) [ 53&"? 9-8 3 /"-235% 9-", 3 4%?=7% 9"#&E" 0%", %*.>#"--%" +*36945%0, 97#3<"?% 3 4"7?% (A.*"?= 290)]. The last word of the Russian text, 4"'=, does not simply mean "to bleed," but, more precisely, "to flow" or "to leak." This is the same word used to describe the goose as the narrator steps on its head with his boot: "I caught the goose and forced it to the ground, its head cracking beneath my boot, cracking and bleeding" (Babel 232) [ &%>-.? ">% 3 <#3>-+? 7 ("0?", >+93-.; >%?%5. 4#"9-+?. <%& 0%30 9.<%>%0, 4#"9-+?. 3 <%4"7?. (A.*"?= 289)]. Sicher points out, "these last words of the story parallel the killing itself" and suggests that "the narrator has also murdered something within himself" ( Style and Structure 97). Thus, these repetitions indic ate that the goose symbolizes a part of the narrator himself. Along with the goose, the character of the woman also serves as a symbol of the narrator's own feminized characteristics. The scene in which the narrator kills the goose begins with his request for this woman to make food for him. "Comrade," she replies, "all of this makes me want to hang myself!" (Babel 232) [ N%5.#32 %4 J43$ &"? ; /"?.1 <%5"934=9; (A.*"?= 289)]. It is noteworthy that she calls the narrator "comrade" [ 4%5.#32]. Prior to this point in the story, the narrator has only been called "you," [ 48], "person" [ '"?%5"7], or names of ridicule. Th is respectful name draws the narrator and woman together in a sense of equality, for, according to her, they are comrades. Aside from the narrator, the woman is also the only other character in "My
33 First Goose" who wears glasses. Spectacles, according t o Sicher, "are associated with the educated intellectual and with the victim, who both belong to the closed, non Cossack indoor world" ( Style and Structure 88). The woman's glasses, therefore, signify her connection to the narrator in their parallel posit ions in relation to the Cossacks. She becomes a symbol of the narrator's feminization and corresponding victimization. Together, the goose and the woman embody the narrator's intellectual, Jewish, and feminine characteristics. Just as in Gilman's model o f the "self hating" Jew, the narrator defines these traits as the "essence of Otherness" the core of his difference from the Cossacks and the particular attributes that prevent him from becoming a part of their community. Through his interactions with the woman and the goose, he separates and differentiates himself from them, ridding himself of these characteristics and taking on Cossack traits in order to transition to Cossack society. In addressing the woman and facing these now negative aspects of his own identity, the narrator first begins to take on characteristics of the Cossacks. Though Peter Constantine translates the narrator's response to the woman's initial refusal to cook food for him simply as "Goddammit," (Babel 231), the original Russian r eads, I%9<%&. *%>. &+:+ 0.4= ( A.*"?= 289) : an obscenity that makes use of Christian imagery. Even though this is a common curse that some Jews may use, it is not without significance that the narrator chooses this phrase. By responding to the woman wit h Christian language, the narrator begins the process of separating himself from his Jewish identity and taking on characteristics of dominant society. The narrator then punches the woman in the chest, acting violently toward her, and toward those aspects of his identity that she represents.
34 The narrator further distances himself from his Jewish, intellectual identity and continues to assimilate to the Cossacks' cultural system as he kills the goose. To commit the act, he picks up a saber he finds on th e ground. Constantine's translation reads, "And, turning around, I saw someone's saber lying nearby" (Babel 232). Again, the English translation misses an essential nuance found in the Russian. In Babel's original text, this movement is described as, G %45"#-+5:39=, ; +53&"? '+/+1 9.*?1, 5.?;5:+19; -"<%&.?"7+ (A.*"?= 289). The adjective used to describe the saber, '+/%6, does not simply mean, "someone's," but "somebody else's," another's," "strange," or "foreign." The word can imply that the noun it describes is not only foreign to an individual, but to his/her family or ethnic group. The narrator is, therefore, not just using "someone's" saber to kill the goose, but "someone's else's." The use of this word implies that, in using this sword to com mit a violent act, the narrator is also assuming aspects of a foreign identity. The narrator also uses his boots as a weapon against the goose. As quoted above, the text reads, "I caught the goose and forced it to the ground, its head cracking beneath my boot, cracking and bleeding" (Babel 232) [ &%>-.? ">% 3 <#3>-+? 7 ("0?", >+93-.; >%?%5. 4#"9-+?. <%& 0%30 9.<%>%0, 4#"9-+?. 3 <%4"7?. (A.*"?= 289)]. Boots are only mentioned two other times in the story, and both appearances of the word are associated with Cossack ideals and acceptance. Along with describing his powerful body, the opening paragraph of the story also pays special attention to Savitsky's boots: "His long legs looks like two girls wedged to their shoulders in shiny riding boots" [ C?3--8 -%>3 ">% *8?3 <%$%/3 -. &"5+:"7, (.7%5.--8$ &% "' 5 *?"94;23" *%4@%#48 (A.*"?= 287)]. As mentioned previously, Savitsky embodies a Cossack ideal
35 of physicality, and in this description, his long legs, large body, and military decorations are accompan ied by "shiny boots." Similarly, after the Cossacks watch the narrator kill the goose and invite him to share in their cabbage soup and pork with them, the narrator describes that the eldest Cossack "fished an extra spoon out of his boot and handed it to me" (Babel 233) [ D58-+? 3( 9.<%>. (.<.9-+1 ?%/7+ 3 <%&.? "" 0-" (A.*"?= 290)]. Boots come to represent acceptance into the Cossacks' community and a sign of Cossack masculinity. Therefore, in killing the goose with his boots, he also begins to share characteristics w ith the Cossacks and to take on their definition of masculinity. I have argued that t his analysis relates directly back to Gilman's explication of internalized anti Semitism. He writes that "self hatred" is "the result of the internalized contrast betwe en any society in which the possibility of acceptance is extended to any marginal group," and that this contrast leads to "the projection of the negative image of this group onto a fiction of itself" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 308). As I have shown, the narrator projects qualities within himself those that he sees as the "essence of [his] Otherness" onto the goose and the woman and then distances himself from these qualities in the most decisive way possible: he murders the goose. He also curses at and p unches the woman. After he kills the goose, thereby completing the act that will win him the Cossacks' acceptance, the woman takes the dead goose into the kitchen and "pulled the door shut behind her" (Babel 232) [ 3 (.7#8?. (. 9%*%6 &5"#= (A.*"?= 289)]. This act represents the final distancing of the narrator from his intellectual/feminine/Jewish characteristics, which previously prevented him from becoming a part of the Cossacks' group. The woman and goose the narrator's "negative projections" of these qualities are now physically separated from him, shut behind the
36 door of the kitchen. As soon as the woman leaves with the dead goose, the Cossacks reverse their judgment of the narrator and invite him to join th em. "This fellow'll fit in here well enough" (Babel 233) [ !.#"-= -.0 <%&$%&;236 (A.*"?= 289)], one of the Cossacks says. They refer to him for the first time here as him "fellow" [ <.#"-=] the same word that the narrator uses to describe the young Cossack with the blonde hair and Ryazan face [0%?%&%6 <.#"-= 9 ?=-;-80 539;'30 5%?%9%0 3 <#"7#.9-80 #;(.-9730 ?3E%0]. This word is significant: as the narrator has performed an act of violence, both he and the Cossack who previously ridiculed him are now "fellows," both equals The eldest Cossack then calls the narrator an even more affectionate name, "brother" (Babel 233) [ *#.43:7. (A.*"?= 289)], and asks him to share in their soup and pork as he waits for his goose to finish cooking. The narrator joins the group and eats with them. Sicher analyzes allusions to Jewish ritual in his transition into Cossack society. He writes: The killing of a goose in My First Goose' likewise serves as a socio sexual ritual of initiation into the Cossacks' community and into violence. It cannot be without significance tha t the narrator takes a blade to cut the goose's throat, as one would do in Jewish ritual slaughter, but then treads its head into dung, thus at the same time defiling its sexual purity and rendering it unfit for Jewish ritual. Moreover, the narrator denie s the Jewish ethico religious code in order to join in communion with the Cossacks by eating their pork. In this case both the Jewish moral and spatial contours are transgressed (the courtyard being a transitory area between home and outside ). (Sicher, St yle and Structure 92) Hence, through killing the goose and eating pork with the Cossacks, the narrator violates Jewish dietary laws, emphasizing his rejection of his Jewish identity. Though, by the conclusion of the story, the Cossacks welcome him into t heir community, the narrator himself cannot fully reconcile his Jewish past and values with
37 his acceptance. His description of nature reflects his conflicted attitude toward his violent acts. After killing the goose and cleaning the saber, the narrator wr ites, "The moon hung over the yard like a cheap earring" (Babel 233) [ O+-. 539"?. -.& &5%#%0, 7.7 &":"5.; 9"#=>. (A.*"?= 289]. Nakhimovsky interprets, "To gain the acceptance of his peers, he finds it necessary to kill his landlady's goose; though he feels strengthened by this act afterwards, the words of Lenin come throu gh clearly to him he is also cheapened by it" (94). The narrator's acceptance also harks back to his earlier rejection. The "holes in the roof that let in the stars" [ <%& &8#;5%6 7#+:"6, <#%<+97.5:"6 (5"(&8], under which the narrator and the Cossacks sl eep, recalls the narrator's "hole ridden clothes that had fallen out of my trunk" [ &8#;58" 0%3 %*-%973, 585.?35:3"9; 3( 9+-&+'7.], which he had to collect after the young Cossack threw his trunk out of the courtyard. Additionally, the Cossacks and narra tor sleep together with tangled legs [9 <"#"<+4.--803 -%>.03], reminding the reader of his earlier denial by the Cossacks, as they "kept stepping over [his] legs" (Babel 232) [ 7.(.73 $%&3?3 <% 0%30 -%>.0 (A.*"?= 289)] while he attempted to read the new spaper. This scene also recalls the earlier description of Savitsky's long, powerful legs. In the end, the narrator is unable to completely assimilate to a Cossack identity. Gilman writes that regardless of the process of negative projection, domin ant society will never consider Jews to be full, unequivacal members of the majority culture. However, in "My First Goose," it is the narrator himself who begins to question his transition to Cossack society. As mentioned above, the last sentence of the story reveals that the narrator "cannot genuinely accept the murderous values of the Cossacks nor the savage act which he has committed to win favor in their eyes" (Sicher, Style and Structure 55).
38 The ending of the story depicts his moment of most complet e and intimate admission into the Cossacks' group: "Six of us slept there warming each other, our legs tangled, under the holes in the roof which let in the stars" (Babel 233) [ F8 9<.?3 :"94"#% 4.0, 9%>#"5.;9= +> %4 +>., 9 <"#"<+4.--803 -%>.03, <%& &8#;5%6 7#8:"6, <#%<+97.5:"6 (5"(&8 (A.*"?= 290)]. Yet, while experiencing this most intimate acceptance, the narrator's guilty heart is colored "crimson with murder" (Babel 233 ) [ %*.>#"--%" +*36945%0 (A.*"?= 290)]. Though he kills a goose for food and to gain the respect necessary to survive within a group of brutal soldiers he cannot fully accept the Cossack's values; the narrator's Judaic conscience cannot be at peace wit h wanton killing (Sicher, "The Jewishness of Babel" 104). The narrator of "My First Goose" remains caught between two worlds, stuck in an unresolved tension between subordinate and dominate, Jew and Cossack, and Self and Other.
39 CHAPTER TWO: Identity Fragmentation in "Story of My Dovecote" "It is always the dominant people who define what is beautiful." Melvin Konner, The Jewish Body Just as the narrator of "My First Goose" is forced to reevalua te his intellectual and physical identities upon entering the violent and foreign Cossack world, the Jewish child protagonist of "Story of My Dovecote" [ G94%#3; 0%"6 >%?+*;4-3] is made to confront his mind and body as he enters into both Russian and adul t society. One of Isaac Babel's semiautobiographical "Childhood Stories," "Story of My Dovecote" explores the process of a Jewish boy growing up in the early twentieth century in southern Ukraine among revolutionary reforms, anti Jewish discrimination in the Russian Empire's education system, and anti Jewish pogroms. In "Story of My Dovecote," the child narrator's experience of his entrance into a Russian gymnasium and the 1905 pogrom in Odessa compels him to face hostile and contradictory ideas about his identity coming from both inside and outside his family and community. In order to enter the Russian world as a Jew, the narrator must attempt to reconcile Jewish, Russian, and popular anti Semitic images of the Jewish male's intellectualism and resultin g powerlessness, physical deformity, and emasculation. Unlike "My First Goose," in which the narrator works to distance himself from "Jewish" qualities and a Jewish identity to be accepted by the Cossacks, 8 the narrator of "Story of My Dovecote" struggle s with simultaneously accepting and rejecting his Jewish identity. While the narrator of "My First Goose" disassociates himself from dominant 8 Though, as we reme mber, he ultimately fails and finds himself unable to freely commit violence.
40 society's stereotypes of particular, negative "Jewish" characteristics and projects these traits onto others, the narrator of "Story of My Dovecote" both employs popular anti Semitic imagery and explicitly includes himself in the negative category of weak Jews. As the boy enters gymnasium, interacts with Russians, and faces violence, he must navigate a society that both allows him in (to an extent) while also presenting him with negative images of himself, his heritage, and his community. Sander Gilman examines these conflicting dynamics in Jewish Self Hatred and argues "the fragmentation of identity that results i s the articulation of self hatred" (3). By accepting dominant society's stereotypes of Jews in order to gain a place of respect among Russians while simultaneously identifying as a Jew, internalized anti Semitism fragments the boy's identity. He is unabl e to reconcile incompatible worldviews and images to create a singular, workable identity that enables him to live fully in both the Jewish and Russian worlds. In this chapter, I will examine the child protagonist's identity fragmentation through a close r eading of the original Russian text. I argue that this fragmentation is embodied in the text in three ways. First, through conflicting images and interpretations of Jewish and Russian bodies and intellects, the boy's identity is broken up into mind/body and Jewish/Russian oppositions. These dichotomies gain practical meaning as he learns that the Jewish body, as seen by Russians, renders Jews powerless in Russian society Secondly, this fragmentation is exhibited by associations between the narrator and other characters, achieved by the repetition of words and phrases to describe seemingly opposite individuals. These associations effectively splinter the boy's identity among multiple characters. Lastly, the boy's identity fragmentation is manifested by the
41 text's two narrators, a primary, adult narrator and a child narrator. The relationship between these two narrators adds another layer of fragmentation to the text, as the primary narrator both separates himself from and identifies with the child narr ator. Jewish and Russian Bodies, Minds, and Power "Story of My Dovecote" is the narrator's account of his entrance into the first class of a Russian gymnasium. Only two Jewish boys are allowed in each year, and the boy's father pushes him to study incessantly, to the point of despair. In order to entice the child, his father promises to fulfill his most intense desire to own a dovecote and pairs of doves. After receiving the highest grade possible on the exam, much to the pride of his f amily and Jewish community, the boy begins to attend the Russian school. He only remembers the promise of the doves after the novelty of his new school has worn off. His mother forbids him from leaving the house to purchase the doves because of the dange r outside: the Constitution of 1905 has just been announced and people are giving speeches, celebrating, and protesting in the streets. Against his mother's wishes, the boy sneaks out to the wild game market. As he is buying pairs of doves, he overhears that his grandfather has been killed across town. He hides the doves under his shirt and tries to run home a back way, but is intercepted by a Russian cripple and his wife. The cripple discovers the doves and smashes them against the boy's face. On the ground, covered in the intestines of his doves, the boy reevaluates his place in the world. After watching the beginnings of a pro Czarist procession, the boy runs home to find his family's household employee, Kuzma, taking care of his grandfather's dead body. The story ends as Kuzma brings the boy to the house of a local Russian man, where his parents are hiding from the violence that has erupted into an anti Jewish pogrom.
42 Throughout the story, the child protagonist struggles with his identity and how he might fit into both Jewish and Russian society. Alice Stone Nakhimovsky writes, "The images that adhere to Jews in the childhood stories are similar to images of Jews in Red Cavalry Jews are not at home in the physical world; they are not robust or s exual Story of My Dovecote' [is] about Jewish powerlessness, in part physical and sexual, as perceived by a young boy" (103). Much like the narrator of "My First Goose," the boy wrestles with Jewish intellectual ability juxtaposed to Russian physical st rength. In the context of early twentieth century Russian Odessa, facing both extreme violence and a quickly changing world, he is forced to question the viability of his Jewishness, and with it his mind and body. While the narrator of "My First Goose" avoids directly describing his body but rather only describes the bodies of Cossacks, the narrator of "Story of My Dovecote" explicitly depicts and critiques his own physicality. He writes, "Like all Jews, I was short in stature, weak, and plagued by head aches from too much study" (Babel 604) [ B.7 59" "5#"3, ; *8? 0.? #%94%0, $3?, 3 94#.&.? %4 +'"-=; >%?%5-803 *%?;03 (A.*"?= 127)]. This statement is emblamatic of the narrator's view of Jewish identity in several ways. First of all, this quotation estab lishes that the narrator views the Jewish body negatively Jews are feeble, they are "weak," "short," and "plagued by headaches." Secondly, just as in "My First Goose," the Jew's physical disability is directly tied to his mental aptitude. Cultural histor ian Daniel Itzkovitz, writing of popular anti Semitic imagery, notes, "the imagined Jew was thought to have overdeveloped bankbooks and brains at the expense of an underdeveloped (or decaying) body" (190). Babel's narrator employs this stereotype, writing that the Jew's physical body suffers from working to
43 better his mind: Jews are "plagued by headaches from too much study." Thirdly, by saying, "Like all Jews," the narrator posits that every Jew embodies this anti Semitic stereotype and denies any possib ility of diversity or individual identity among Jews. In doing so, he employs this anti Semitic stereotype to its furthest conclusion, Othering Jews by essentializing them as all being the same and sharing inherent, negative characteristics. Though the narrator speaks of the Jews as an outsider by employing popular anti Semitic stereotypes, he also simultaneously includes himself in the category of Jews. "Like all Jews," he writes, I was short in stature, weak, and plagued by headaches from too much st udy." This statement exhibits one of the fundamental tensions of "Story of My Dovecote" 9 : in one sentence, the narrator speaks as both an insider and outsider in regard to the Jewish community. This identification with the "weak Jews" distinguishes Babel 's narrator from "self hating Jews" as described by Gilman. In Jewish Self Hatred he writes that self hating Jews mock characteristics that dominant society ascribes to Jews, but that that they always employ "mockery directed at a projection of the self rather than at the self" (Gilman 20). As illustrated in Chapter One, Gilman's "self hating" Jews both accept dominant society's value system and then project its characterization of negative, "Jewish" qualities onto other, "bad" Jews, always working to di stinguish themselves from those projections. The narrator of "Story of My Dovecote" complicates Gilman's notion in that he both accepts dominant society's characterization of Jews as too physically weak and mentally strong, but includes himself among the Jews who share these qualities. 9 As well as the other stories in the "Childhood Stories" and Red Cavalry.
44 Through simultaneously accepting dominant society's negative images and judgments of Jews but still identifying as a Jew, the narrator's identity becomes fragmented. According to the narrator, the healthy development of t he Jew's mind and body are placed in opposition to one another. As a Jew, he can therefore never have both a strong mind and strong body. In this way, through the boy's acceptance of dominant society's view of Jews as physically weak and mentally strong, his identity is broken into opposing parts and he is rendered incapable of reconciling mind and body: it is this fragmentation that drives him to question his place in society throughout "Story of My Dovecote" and other of Babel's "Childhood Stories." Mo reover, by accepting dominant society's negative stereotypes of Jews but also including himself among the category of Jews who fulfill this negative stereotype, the boy's identity is splintered into conflicting parts. Internalized anti Semitism, or being forced to reconcile negative images of Jewishness portrayed by dominant society with the hope of gaining a place of respect within that society, further fragments the boy's identity as he speaks simultaneously as an insider and an outsider, a Jew and a Rus sian. The narrator's description of short, weak Jews is in direct contrast to his portrayal of Russians. After receiving the highest grade possible on his Russian language entrance exam, the narrator exits the classroom and is immediately surrounded by R ussian boys poking him and trying to make him play with them. Scared and unsure, the narrator is saved from the Russian boys by Pyatnitsky, the deputy warden who helped to administer his exam. Pyatnitsky 10 takes a liking to the boy after his emotional per formance of 10 It is interesting to note that "Pyatnitsky" [ !;4-3E736] is an adjectival form of "five." It is of no coincidence that the narrator must receive two five pluses [ <;4"#%7 9 7#"94.03, lit. fives with crosses ] on his entrance examination to be admitted to the class. At the end of "Story of My Dovecote," after Grandpa Shoyl is murdered, the narrator must als o place two "fivers" [ <;4.73] over Shoyl's eyes. Fives are
45 Pushkin's poetry during the exam, calling him "my little friend" (Babel 603) [ +/%7 0%6 (A.*"?= 126)], and tells the Russian boys to leave the narrator alone. The narrator describes Pyatnitsky as having a "large, fleshy, gentlemanly back" ( Babel 603) [ +53&"? 90;4"-3" -. <#%94%#-%6 J4%6, 0;9394%6, *.#97%6 9<3-" (A.*"?= 126)] and compares him to a barge: A magnificent star shone on his chest, medals tinkled by his lapel, and hemmed in by the murky walls, moving between them like a barge mo ves through a deep canal, his large, black, uniformed body marched off on rigid legs and disappeared through the doors of the headmaster's office. (Babel 603) !8:-.; (5"(&. *?"9-+?. + -">% -. >#+&3, %#&"-. (.(5"-"?3 + ?.E7.-., *%?=:%" '"#-%" 0+-&3#-%" "> % 4"?% 94.?% +$%&34= -. <#;08$ -%>.$. D-% 9439-+4% *8?% 9+0#.'-803 94"-.03, %-% &53>.?%9= 5 -3$, 7.7 &53/"49; *.#7. 5 >?+*%7%0 7.-.?", 3 39'"(?% 5 &5"#;$ &3#"74%#97%>% 7.*3-"4.. (A.*"?= 126) In the narrator's eyes, Pyatnitsky is the opposite of a Jewish boy. His body is so large and powerful that it moves "like a barge moves through a deep canal, and he is decorated with medals, signs of acceptance and prestige in the eyes of other Russians. As Pyatnitsky keeps the Russian boys from bothering the narra tor, it becomes obvious that only a man as physically powerful as he is capable of protecting the narrator in the Russian world. The narrator sees Jewish male bodies in light of the Russian male bodies he experiences outside of his home community. Becau se he believes Russian society to highly value physical strength and views Russian men as strong and Jewish men as weak, he sees the men in his family as powerless in the world of dominant, Russian society. The narrator writes, "All the men of our clan ha d been too trusting of others and too therefore associated with both the narrator's initial acceptance into Russian society (i.e. entrance into the gymnasium, Pyatnitsky's protection of the narrator) and Russian society's ultimate des tructive invasion into his life (Grandpa Shoyl's murder) and the irreconciliability of the two worlds.
46 quick to take unconsidered action. We had never had any luck in anything," (Babel 603) [ M9" 0+/'3-8 5 -.:"0 #%&+ *8?3 &%5"#'358 7 ?1&;0 3 97%#8 -. -"%*&+0.--8" <%94+<73, -.0 -3 5 '"0 -" *8?% 9'.94=; (A.*"?= 126)]. According to the narrator, his male family members, with their Jewish bodies and Jewish minds, are largely unsuccessful and ine ffective. His father attributes this ill fortune to an outside force. "My father believed," the narrator writes, "that his life was governed by a malevolent fate, an inscrutable being that pursued him and that was unlike him in every way" (Babel 604) [ D4 "E 5"#3? <%J4%0+, '4% /3(-=1 ">% +<#.5?;"4 (?%*-.; 9+&=*., -"%*P;9-30%" 9+2"945%, <#"9?"&+12"" ">% 3 5% 59"0 -. -">% -" <%$%/"" (A.*"?= 127)]. This fate represents not simply an otherwordly force, but a social force, as well. !#"9?"&+12"", translated here as "pursued," can also mean "persecute" or "victimize." The narrator's father, therefore, feels that his life is controlled and that he is victimized by a being that resembles him in no way [ 5% 59"0 -. -">% -" <%$%/""]. This being can be read to represent Russians, who, though the father is a Jew, control his fate in a Russian dominated society. Russians are "unlike him in every way" he feels that his body and values are fundamentally different from the Russians who govern and pursue him. The refore, he is unlucky because his Jewish body and values are futile when judged within the value system of Russian society. Russian and Jewish identities are rendered all the more irreconcilable by the boy's father, through his view of the absolute differ ence between the two groups and the Jewish powerlessness that results. The disparity between the Russian and Jewish worlds is reiterated in the climax of the story, as the narrator faces violence and encounters the physical world. While purchasing doves the narrator overhears that his grandfather has been killed in the
47 violence that has erupted in response to the release of the 1905 Constitution. He runs toward home through a deserted alley to confirm whether or not the rumor is true. On his way, he r uns into Makarenko, a cripple who sells cloth and cigarettes to boys on the narrator's street, and asks him if he has heard about his grandfather. Makarenko, trying to count and protect his merchandise as the violence and confusion increases, ignores the boy's question and hits him with his doves. Lying with his face against the earth, covered in the blood and feathers of his doves, he experiences the earth and physicality in a new way. He writes, "My world was small and ugly. I closed my eyes so I woul dn't see it, and pressed myself against the earth that lay soothing and mute beneath me. This tamped earth did not resemble anything in our lives" (Babel 609) [ F3# 0%6 *8? 0.? 3 +/.9"-. (.7#8? >?.(., '4%*8 -" 53&"4= ">%, 3 <#3/.?9; 7 ("0?", ?"/.5:"6 < %&% 0-%6 5 +9<%7%34"?=-%6 -"0%4". Q4%<4.--.; J4. ("0?; -3 5 '"0 -" *8?. <%$%/. -. -.:+ /3(-= 3 -. %/3&.-3" J7.(.0"-%5 5 -.:"6 /3(-3 (A.*"?= 134)]. This wording parallels his father's view of fate. In the Russian text, the same phrasing is used for the being, which was "unlike him in every way" [ 3 5% 59"0 -. -">% -" <%$%/""] and the earth, which, "did not resemble anything in our lives" [ -3 5 '"0 -" *8?. <%$%/. -. -.:+ /3(-=]. The earth this soothing, mute, physical earth does not resemble the boy's Jewish life just as the force the Russians that governs his father's life also does not resemble him. Through this experience, the narrator reestablishes that the physical, natural world, as manifested in the dirt of the ground, is not a part of the Jew 's life. Along with differentiating the natural world from the Jewish world, and reinforcing aforementioned anti Semitic views of Jews as physically inadequate, the narrator identifies himself with
48 the Jewish world. He writes, My world was small and ugl y. This tamped earth did not resemble anything in our lives." At the same time, he "presses" himself against the earth, finding something "soothing" and comforting in this experience of a world that is not his own. It is important to note that Peter Con stantine's English translation leaves out a part of the original Russian text. The English translation ends with, "This tamped earth did not resemble anything in our lives," [ Q4%<4.--.; J4. ("0?; -3 5 '"0 -" *8?. <%$%/. -. -.:+ /3(-=], but the full Russian text continues, "This tamped earth did not resemble anything in our lives or the expectation of exams in our lives" [ Q4%<4.--.; J4. ("0?; -3 5 '"0 -" *8?. <%$%/. -. -.:+ / 3(-= 3 -. %/3&.-3" J7.(.0"-%5 5 -.:"6 /3(-3]. The original Russian reinforces the boy's contrast between physical and mental worlds and abilities. The narrator spends the first half of "Story of My Dovecote" studying for exams, and in this passage, he d efines his life as waiting and preparing for exams. This life, of course, is directly opposed to the physical, earthly world that belongs to others. 11 While taking the entrance exam for the first time at the beginning of the story, the narrator repeats twi ce, I was good at learning (Babel 601) [ *8? 9<%9%*"7 -.+7.0 (A.*"?= 124)] and speaks of his mind and sharp memory (Babel 601) [ + 0"-; +0. 3 /.&-%6 <.0;43 (A.*"?= 125). However, as he raises himself from the ground at the end of the story, after his violent encounter with Makarenko, th e boy comes to realize that these skills leave him powerless in Russian society. Efraim Sicher writes: Exams and daily existence lose their usual meaning for the boy who is forced to readjust his relationship with the world around him. The usual behavior al 11 Another level of interpretation is also possible. These "exams" can be read not only as literal entrance examinations, which the boy studies for a nd takes earlier in the story. "Exams" may also be read as the constant challenges and difficulties of living as a minority. The Russians' world, the earth, is "soothing" and "mute" in contrast to the constant struggles that the narrator and his family m ust face as Jews.
49 boundaries have broken down and, with them, the boundary between the self and the outside world. The boy is brought to reconsider his identity in a gentile oriented society and to apprehend his adult role as alienated Jew in a dangerous, hostile non bo unded area outside the familiar perception of the closed Jewish home with its joys and troubles, its anxieties and ambitions. ( Style and Structure 91) After this realization, the boy describes walking home along a "foreign street" ( :"? <% '+/%6 +?3E" (A.*"?= 134)], and as Sicher interprets, it is "no longer his street, no longer recognizable" ( Style and Structure 91). The boy is forced to reevaluate a world in which he may attend a Russian school by passing a difficult examination but where his mind o ffers no protection against violence committed by Russians against Jews. He is conflicted as he both admires those Russians and fears them. Biblical Allusion, Character Associations, and Fragmentations "Story of My Dovecote" illustrates the identity frag mentation that results from internalized anti Semitism and conflicting worldviews in multiple ways. Along with the narrator's mind body split, simultaneous identification as both insider and outsider to the Jewish community, and struggle with the powerles sness of Jews in Russian society, certain repeated associations between characters in "Story of My Dovecote" further embody this fragmentation. As illustrated in Chapter One, the narrator of "My First Goose" projects the negative aspects of his Jewish ide ntity onto the woman and the goose by using the same words and images to describe these three characters, and thereby connects them. A similar phenomenon occurs in "Story of My Dovecote." However, in this case, instead of the narrator projecting his own negative, "Jewish" traits onto others in order to separate himself from his Jewish identity, the characters of Makarenko and the narrator are connected through repetitions in order to illustrate a splintering of the narrator's identity. Though Makarenko s eems, on the surface level, to be simply the
50 narrator's enemy and oppressor, I argue that Makarenko actually represents parts of the narrator's own identity. As he struggles to find himself among conflicting worldviews and aspects of his identity, he cann ot exist as a singular whole, but rather finds (or projects) parts of himself in others around him. The narrator describes Makarenko and himself in parallel ways in order to illustrate these multiple pieces the Russian and Jewish parts of himself that is he working to reconcile growing up as a young Jewish boy in Russian society. 12 Babel's technique of associating characters through the repetition of words and images is derived from a Jewish source. As Sicher writes, "Babel's prose abounds in references and allusions to the Hebrew Bible, Prophets and later holy scriptures, to what George Steiner has called the textual homeland' of the Jewish world" ("Jewishness of Babel" 85). "Story of My Dovecote" is no exception. The text includes allusions to David and Goliath and Noah's doves. However, as Zsuzsa Hetnyi points out in In a Maelstrom: The History of Russian Jewish Prose (1860 1940) the text's reliance on Biblical motifs goes even deeper than explicit references to stories and characters from the T anakh. She writes: The catalogue is a basic poetic feature of the Bible, deeply rooted, first of all, in the paratactic structure of Biblical Hebrew language itself, but it is also an ancient technique or device of poetic imagery. Paratactic structures a re usually elliptic, and the coherence is born, as it was mentioned, through association. One of the secrets of Babel's text is its visual nature, things depicted side by side without any textual element of cause and effect, with a hidden logic to be deco ded by the reader. This type of andandand" language is characteristic of the ancient (primitive) structure of Hebrew (allowing multiple explications of the Biblical 12 This splitting of features of the narrator's identity among different characters in the narrative can also be seen in the relationship between Grandpa Shoyl, the narrator, and Makarenko. The narrator describes Grandpa Shoyl as having "f at handscovered in fish scales" (Babel 604) [ 4%?948" ">% #+73<%7#848 #8*="6 '":+"6 (A.*"?= 127)]. Makarenko suffers from leprosy, which is derived from a Greek word that means scales on a fish. There are other parallels between the scene after the boy has been hit by the doves and the scene desc ribing Grandpa Shoyl's dead body.
51 text), of the poetic language (visual impressions, metaphoric imagery, parallels) and o f the child's language, too. (235) By catalogue, Hetnyi is referring to a device such as the description of the contents of Uncle Lev's trunk in "Story of My Dovecote," in which seemingly unrelated or irreconcilable items are placed side by side without any hint of how these juxtapositions might be interpreted. 13 However, images do not have to literally be placed next to one another in the text to be connected through this type of association. By repeating particular words or phrases to describe two seem ingly very different characters or their actions (words that are also never repeated elsewhere in the text), Babel achieves the same effect: he asks his readers to associate these characters with one another, to imagine them side by side and to question wh at their connection might mean. On the surface, the narrator and Makarenko seem to be opposites. The former is a shy, small Jewish boy who spends the majority of his life studying indoors, the latter a Russian man who sells cloth outside the wild game mar ket. Makarenko is described as having a "rough face of red fat and fists and iron" (Babel 608) [ >#+*%" ">% ?3E%, 9%94.5?"--%" 3( 7#.9-%>% /3#., 3( 7+?.7%5, 3( /"?"(. (A.*"?= 132)], an image that rings of violence and forceful physicality in a way that contrasts sharply with the weak, studious Jews of the narrator's world. Alice Stone Nakhimovsky i nterprets the boy's embarassment and defeat at the hands of Makarenko to be a sign of just how powerless he is within Russian society: she writes, "In the marketplace, caught in the pogrom, he and his doves are no match even for a Russian cripple" (104). However, linguistic clues and repetitions that connect the narrator with Makarenko suggest that the relationship 13 "In this trunk were dumbbells, locks of a woman's hair, Uncle's tallith whips with gilded tips, and herbal tea in little boxes trimmed with cheap pearls" (Babel 604) [ M J4%0 9+-&+7" *8?3 >3#3 %4 >30-.94373, <#;&3 /"-97 3$ 5%?%9, &"&%59736 4.?"9, $?8948 9 (%?%'"-803 -.*.?&.:-37.03 3 E5"4%'-86 '.6 5 :7.4+?7.$, %4&"?.--8$ &":"5803 /"0'+>.03 (A.*"?= 127)].
52 between these two characters is deeper and more complex than Nakhimovsky's analysis indicates. The very fact that Makarenko is described as a cripple [ 7.?"7.] is important and serves to connect him with the narrator. After being accepted to the first class of the gymnasium, the narrator runs home to tell his parents. While his father immediately begins to celebrate the news, his mother remains reserved and uncertain. The narrator describes his mother's response, "My mother was pale, she was trying to foresee my fate in my eyes, and looked at me with bitter pity, as if I were a little cripple" ( Babel 603) [F.4= *8?. *?"&-., %-. 39<8485.?. 9+&= *+ 5 0%3$ >?.(.$ 3 90%4#"?. -. 0"-; 9 >%#=7%6 /.?%94=1, 7.7 -. 7.?"'7+ (A.*"?= 126)]. Makarenko and the narrator are both described by others as cripples, and this label associates them with one another. Makarenko's physical disabilities connect him wit h the narrator in other ways. Amid the confusion that ensues as the pogrom breaks out, a young woman with "a beautiful, fiery face" (Babel 608) [ /"-23-. 9 #.9<.?35:309; 7#.93580 ?3E%0 (A.*"?= 132)] runs away with some of Makarenko's merchandise. He yel ls at his wife and business partner, Katyusha, that people are stealing cloth and bonnets from them, "'Bonnets!' Makarenko shouted, choked, and made a sound as if he were sobbing" (Babel 608) [ -K"
53 This scene bears a striking linguistic resemblance to an earlier scene in the story, in which the narrator rec ites Pushkin's poetry during his exam. The narrator describes, "I recited the poems in sobs.I, shivering, straight backed, shouted out Pushkin's verses with all my might, as fast as I could" (Babel 602) [ -.5(#8& 97.(.? J43 943$3.4%#%<;9=, ; 7#3'.? <+ :73-973" 94#%@8 3(% 59"$ 93? (A.*"?= 125)]. In both scenes, Makarenko and the narrator sob (#8&."4, -.5(#8&) and shout ((.7#3'.?, 7#3'.?) as they struggle to achieve something they are not predisposed to accomplish legless Makarenko attempts to chase aft er a physically fit woman just as the Jewish narrator tries to make the pinnacle of Russian culture his own. 14 Furthermore, the phrase, "with all one's might" [3(% 59"$ 93?] is repeated to describe both Makarenko's and the narrator's actions in these two scenes. The linguistic parallelism between these two descriptions serves to associate the characters. Just as the narrator's weak, Jewish body and values render him ineffective in Russian society, legless Makarenko is also powerless in a world that priv leges physical ability he is incapable even of stopping a woman from stealing his merchandise before his eyes. Aside from these linguistic repetitions and associations, one more Biblical allusion serves to connect Makarenko with the narrator. Makaren ko is legless because he suffers from leprosy, and as Sicher points out, by smashing the dove against the boy's face, "he is performing, albeit in reverse, the ritual cleansing of leprosy ordained in Leviticus 13 14" ( Style and Structure 92). Leviticus 13 and 14 describe how a priest may determine if a person who suffers from a skin disease is clean or unclean. If a person is 14 Of course, "the pinnacle of Russian culture" is a loaded statement. What I mean to say is that Pushkin represents, to many, the birth and heights of Russian literary culture. As Zsuzsa Hetnyi writes, "The child in this scene has no understanding of the controversial character of the situation: Peter the Great and Pushkin's poems are the foundation stones, the very esse nce of Russian national culture" (240).
54 declared to be unclean, he must live in isolation away from his community. However, if a person who has been isolated heals, he ma y be cleansed to reenter the community through a ritual involving the sprinkling of a bird's blood onto his skin. Yet, if Makarenko is the leper, why should the narrator be the one receiving the ritual cleansing? This appropriation of the ritual prescrib ed in Leviticus 14 serves to further associate Makarenko and the boy just as both are cripples, the narrator is also a metaphorical leper. In "The Jewish Murderer: Jack the Ripper, Race, and Gender," Sander Gilman examines popular associations among le prosy, syphilis, and Jews. He writes, "Like the leper, Jews bear their diseased sexuality on their skin" (Gilman, "Jewish Murderer" 127). Looking at popular images of Jack the Ripper in nineteenth century England, Gilman argues that the search for Jack t he Ripper meant looking for an appropriate murderer of prostitutes who could correspond to the fantasies of gender, race, and class in the contemporary climate. He writes: Only the whore could kill the whore. Only the whore, and Jack killing and dismembe ring, searching after the cause of corruption and disease, Jack would kill the source of infection because, like them, he too was diseased. The paradigm for the relationship between Jack and the prostitutes can be taken from the popular medical discourse of the period: Similia similibus curantur, like cures like,' the motto of C.F.S. Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic medicine. The scourge of the streets, the carrier of disease can only be eliminated by one who is equally corrupt and diseased. And th at was Jack. (Gilman, "Jewish Murderer" 111) A similar logic can be seen in the relationship between Makarenko and the narrator. In many ways the two characters are alike, even the same they are both lepers, cripples, and powerless in a physical world Yet, at the same time, Makarenko is a Russian who has access to the Russian world in a way the narrator cannot. Makarenko abuses and
55 rejects the narrator, and through this, the fragmentation of identity that results from internalized anti Semitism can be seen. In a metaphorical way, the boy's identity is splintered between himself and Makarenko. It is no coincidence that Makarenko acts violently toward the narrator's Jewishness and is able to read it on his face. Fragmentation, Narration, and Time The identity fragmentation that occurs from internalized anti Semitism can also be found in the structure of the narration of "Story of My Dovecote." The story is narrated not just by the child protagonist, but rather by two narrators a primary, adult narrator who looks back on and frames the story, and the child narrator who relates his action as he experiences it. 15 Examining Jewish Russian literature as a phenomenon, Zsuzsa Hetnyi writes of the importance of examining narrative structure in these wo rks: It was fundamentally important to investigate the storyteller's position and the highly complex narrative relationship between the author and his text. The structure of these narrative layers is especially intriguing because, owing to their dual iden tity and uncertainties of self definitionthe narrative layers illuminate the shifting viewpoints of internal and external narrative, the often highly delicate, hard to keep balance between staying aloof and accepting identification. One can witness these shifts in the changes of the author's distance from the world portrayed or created, and from its characters. The duality of being both critical and accepting, attracted and repelled, is reflected by the different forms of modality, and in the ambivalence (in the psychological sense of the term rather than in the manner as it was used by Bakhtin) of the viewpoints of we'/'us' and them.'" (xii xiii) These "changes of the author's distance from the world portrayed or created, and from its characters" are seen in "Story of My Dovecote" through the shifting relationship between the primary and child narrators. This relationship, consisting of both distancing and identification, further emphasizes and embodies the text's theme of identity fragmentation in th e very structure of the narration itself. 15 Efraim Sicher also points out this split and names the two narrators in Style and Structure
56 As the text is written entirely in the past tense, the primary narrator must always be at least implicitly present, framing the boy's experiences through his mature point of view. However, the primary narrator vac illates in his explicit distance from the events described in "Story of My Dovecote." While at some points the two narrators' temporal worlds and viewpoints seem to collapse into one, at other times, the primary narrator pointedly separates himself from h is childhood self, overtly distinguishing his time and place from the child narrator's. For example, in the expository first paragraph of the story, the text reads, "My family lived in Nikolayev, in the province of Kherson. This province no longer exists ; our town was absorbed into the district of Odessa" (Babel 601) [ R%&-8" 0%3 /3?3 5 >%#%&" S37%?."5", T"#%-97%6 >+5"#-33. U4%6 >+*"#-33 *%?=:" -"4, -.: >%#%& %4%:"? 7 D&"997%0+ #.6%-+ (A.*"?= 124)]. Through this statement, the adult narrator clearly differentiates his contemporary world from the child narrator's: he declares that things have changed, that in his time and place, the child narrator's home province no longer exists. Hence, the primary narrator marks an overt differentiation between the past and present and, in doing so, separates himself from the boy. The primary narrator further distinguishes his world from the boy's. The child spends two painstaking years studying for his entrance examinations. During his second year of preparation, his father hires a tutor for him, and within one year, he memorize s three entire books: grammar, math, and Russian history textbooks. It is because of this intense preparation that he is admitted to the class and enters the Russian world. After describing his experiences of memorizing these texts, the primary narrator adds, "Children no longer study these books, but I learned them by heart, line by line"
57 (Babel 602) [ !% J430 7-3>.0 &"43 -" +'.49; *%?=:", -% ; 58+'3? 3$ -.3(+94=, %4 94#%73 &% 94#%73 (A.*"?= 125)]. Here again, the primary narrator overtly separates himself from the child narrator. In this case, the two narrators' worlds differ not only concerning ad ministrative, legal details, such as in which province the narrator's home city exists, but also concerning larger issues, such as education. The primary narrator points out that the books to which the child narrator devoted years of studying have become outdated in his time. Yet, even as the primary narrator differentiates himself from the child narrator, he also identifies himself with him. The child describes his early love for Grandpa Shoyl and for his tales of the Polish uprising of 1861. The primary narrator notes, "Now I know that Shoyl was no more than an old fool and a nave teller of tall tales, but I have not forgotten those little tales of his, they were good tales" (Babel 604) [ N"<"#= 4% ; (-.1, '4% V%6? *8? 59">% 4%?=7% 94.#86 -"+' 3 -.35-86 ?>+-, -% <%*.9"-73 ">% -" (.*848 0-%6, %-3 *8?3 $%#%:3 (A.*"?= 128)]. While the primary narrator explicitly distinguishes his interpretation of Shoyl's stories from the child narrator's eager acceptance of his grandfather's reported adventures, he also affirms that he still fondly remembers these "good tales." Sicher argues, the disoriented child narrator of Story of My Dovecote' is naively unaware of what the primary narrator knows in retrospect" (Sicher, Style and Structure 90). Though th e primary narrator realizes that Shoyl's stories were most likely false, he also still loves them, just as the boy does. Within this one statement, the primary narrator both distances himself from and connects with the child narrator's point of view. The se "shifting viewpoints" and marked "changes of the author's distance from the world portrayed or created, and from its characters" further
58 fracture the protagonist's identity between his past and his future. The boy's struggle to be accepted by Russia n society leaves him unsettled, stuck attempting to navigate incompatible worlds. Though his family celebrates his admittance to the Russian gymnasium as a Jewish victory over Russian discrimination, he soon discovers that Russian culture still considers him an outsider. He learns that the same society of which he wishes to become a part, the society that has produced the poetry of Pushkin he so admires, is also capable of commiting great violence against him and his family. His identity splinters into t he aspects of himself that yearn to become a Russian and those that cannot break away from his Jewish home. As this chapter has illustrated, this fragmentation structures "Story of My Dovecote" in several ways: through mind/body and Jewish/Russian dichoto mies, associations between the narrator and Makarenko, and the identification and distancing between the text's two narrators.
59 CHAPTER THREE: Language, Discourse, and Liberation in "The Awakening" "The father is required to circumcis e his son; to redeem him; to teach him Torah ; to assure that he marries; and to teach him a trade. Some say he must also teach him to swim." -Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin, p.29a Violence plays a central role in the Jewish narrator' s initiation into Russian society in "My First Goose" and "Story of My Dovecote." In both stories, the narrator's Jewishness is linked to a weak, immature body resulting from the development of a strong mind. At the climax of each story, the narrator con fronts the physical world by directly experiencing an act of violence and is consequently forced to question the efficacy of his intellectual abilities in a bodily, Russian world. "The Awakening" [ !#%*+/&"-3"], a later story in Isaac Babel's "Childhood Stories" series, complicates the mind/body opposition expressed in "My First Goose" and "Story of My Dovecote." Taking place a few years after the events of "Story of My Dovecote," "The Awakening" does not feature violence, but rather explores the child protagonist's initiation into dominant society through learning to swim and play outdoors with Russian boys. However, his acceptance into Russian society does not rely on his gaining of physical abi lities alone. As an aspiring writer, the child protagonist learns that he must not only strengthen his body to be accepted by Russians, but that he must also modify his thinking. His Russian mentor teaches him that in order to be accepted by dominant soci ety, he must become fluent in their language and discourse. The child protagonist finds that learning to act like a Russian also means learning to speak and to write like one. He portrays his initiation into Russian language and discourse as liberation f rom his stifling Jewish lifestyle and blames his father for his inadequate upbringing. However, in
60 the end, regardless of whether the boy himself understands, the reader comes to realize that his family also suffers from the conflicting ideals of Jewish a nd Russian culture. The family's Jewishness remains a part of the boy's identity no matter how he chooses to live his life. In this chapter, I examine stereotypes of Russian and Jewish language and discourse in "The Awakening." After looking at the chi ld narrator's internalization of stereotypes about Jewish and Russian bodies, I revisit "My First Goose" and "Story of my Dovecote" to examine how dominant language and discourse play a role in their narrators' initiations into Russian society. In the fol lowing section, I contrast their perceptions of the Jewish mind with the ideas of the narrator of "The Awakening," who wishes not only to read Russian texts, but also to write Russian literature himself. I examine how the narrator frames Russian discourse as capable of delivering him from his oppressive Jewish home and selfish parents, which he accomplishes by framing his Russian mentor as both a religious savior and father figure. In the chapter's conclusion, I complicate the boy's perception of Russian discourse as a liberating force and show how the narrative aims to put the family's societal subjugation back in perspective for the reader. Like "Story of My Dovecote," Babel's "The Awakening" explores a young, Jewish boy's coming of age in Odessa, Ukr aine toward the end of the Russian Empire. All the Jewish boys in town are taking music lessons with an esteemed violin teacher, and many are becoming rich and famous virtuosos. In hopes of achieving fame, the fourteen year old narrator's father forces hi m to learn to play the violin, as well. Though the narrator is not interested or gifted in music, he is an aspiring writer and lover of literature:
61 he reads fiction while pretending to practice his violin at home. One day, he skips his violin lesson and instead goes to the harbor with a friend to speak with a sailor and watch the Russian boys swim and play. He never returns to music lessons. Envious of the Russians, he tries to learn how to swim, but struggles, until an older, athletic Russian man, Efim Nikitich Smolich, takes him, and other Jewish boys, under his wing. Smolich, a proofreader for the local newspaper, takes a particular liking to the narrator, who, in gratitude for his help, shows the man a play he had written the night before. The Russ ian mentor tells the narrator that he has talent, but that his writing is dry and removed, and that it misses a sense of life and nature. Smolich blames the narrator's parents for his ignorance of nature and bookish writing style. The boy returns home wi th Smolich's advice in mind. During dinner, the violin teacher arrives at the boy's house to tell his parents that he has not attended violin lessons in months. The narrator's father reacts violently to the news of his son's transgression. Locking himse lf in the bathroom for safety, the boy listens to his father's threats. He only stops screaming and banging on the bathroom door once his mother, the narrator's grandmother, begs him to stop. The story ends in the middle of the night as the boy's aunt ta kes him to his grandmother's house to sleep, where he will be safe from his father's anger. The boy's aunt holds his hand tightly as he thinks of his earlier conversation with Smolich and contemplates running away. The older narrator of "The Awakening" s hares a view of the Jewish male body with his younger self in "Story of My Dovecote." Just as in the earlier story, he employs popular negative, anti Semitic imagery when describing other Jewish boys. Describing the Jewish boys at violin lessons, he writ es, "Large headed, freckled children came
62 bustling out of Zagursky's chamber, their necks thin as flower stalks, a convulsive flush on their cheeks. Then the door closed, swallowing up the next dwarf (Babel 630)" [ G( 7.*3-"4. ).>#+97%>%, :.4.;9=, 58$%&3? 3 >%?%5.948", 5"9-+:'.48" &"43 9 4%-7303 :";03, 7.7 94"*?3 E5"4%5, 3 <#3<.&%'-80 #+0;-E"0 -. 2"7.$ (A.*"?= 154 155)]. Not only do the Jews have thin necks, small bodies, and large heads (brains), but the narrator also portrays their bodies as diseased their cheeks show a "convulsive flush." When Smolich leads the boys in outdoor, physical activities, the narrator describes them, as Peter Constantine translates, as "crowds of frail little creatures" (Babel 632). However, the original Russian text reads D5"#$%5%&3? 4%?<.03 #.$343'-8$ (.0%#8:"6 (A.*"?= 156): literally, they are described as "rachitic dwarves." Rickets is a disease affecting bone health that can result from a vitamin D deficiency and particularly from a lack of exposure to the sun. He nce, as in "My First Goose" and "Story of My Dovecote," the Jewish boys' developed minds and time spent studying are connected with their diseased, decaying bodies. Also, as in "Story of My Dovecote," the narrator simultaneously employs popular anti Semit ic imagery to describe other Jews while including himself in the category of these weak Jews. When his parents decide to send him to music lessons, he writes, "I had passed the age of child prodigies I was almost fourteen but because of my height and frai lness I could be mistaken for an eight year old" (Babel 628 629) [ T%4= ; 3 58:"? 3( 5%(#.94. 5+-&"#73-&%5 0-" :"? '"48#-.&E.486 >%&, -% <% #%94+ 3 $3?%943 0"-; 0%/-% *8?% 9*84= (. 5%9=03?"4-">% (A.*"?= 153)]. The narrator himself writes that he too sh ares in these traits. In describing many of the neighborhood Jews' successes in music and his own distaste for the violin but passion for literature, he writes,
63 "I too was a dwarf just as they were, but I heard a different calling in the voice of my ances tors" (Babel 630) [ N.7%6 /" 7.#?37, 7.7 3 %-3, ; 5 >%?%9" <#"&7%5 #.(?3'.? +>%" 5-+:"-3" (A.*"?= 155)]. Here, the narrator both identifies with and separates himself from the other Jewish boys. Like them, his body is small and weak, and like them, he inherits his talen ts and interests from the same ancestors. However, his calling is different he wants to write, while his peers play music to earn fame and fortune for their families. Additionally, as in the earlier stories, the narrator describes the bodies of Russians with awe and envy. He calls the Russian boys he sees playing on the dock "bronzed boys" (Babel 631) [ *#%-(%*80 J430 0.?='3:7.0 (A.*"?= 156)] and describes Smolich's body with explicit veneration: He lay among us by the breakwater, the king of these melon and kerosene waters, with his copper shoulders, his head that of an aging gladiator, and his lightly crooked, bronze legs. I loved him as only a boy afflicted with hysteria and headaches can love an athlete. (Babel 632) H 0"&-803 95%303 "'.03, 9 >%?%5%6 9%94.#35:">%9; >?.&3.4%#., 9 *#%-(%5803, '+4= 7#35803 -%>.03, %?"/.? 9#"&3 -.9 (. 5%?-%#"(%0, 7. 7 5?.94"?3J43$ .#*+(-8$, 7"#%93-%58$ 5%&. <%?1*3? J4%>% '"?%5"7. 4.7, 7.7 4%?=7% 0%/"4 <%?1*34= .4?"4. 0.?='37, $5%#.1236 394"#3"6 3 >%?%5-803 *%?;03. (A.*"?= 157) He loves Smolich for his athletic body the opposite of the weak, frail, diseased bod ies of the Jewish boys, a body the narrator himself possesses. However, in "The Awakening," he envies Smolich for more than his physicality. He also loves him because his Russian body and mind hold a key for the narrator, a key to unlocking the secrets o f Russian language and discourse, to which the narrator has no access within the confines of his Jewish community. In Jewish Self Hatred, Sander Gilman explicitly examines how a subordinate
64 group's barred access to dominant society's language and disco urse relates to internalized anti Semitism. His study of "self hating" Jews focuses particularly on Jewish writers, considering how "the label self hatred' has been used to characterize the response of writers to the charge of being unable to command the language, discourse, or both of the world that they inhabit" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred ix). In looking at Jews who employ dominant society's anti Semitic stereotypes when writing about other Jews, he demonstrates how oppressive and powerful a charge th is can be for minority authors writing in the dominant language of the countries in which they live. As Babel was a Jew who wrote in Russian, and his narrators are often writers themselves, this aspect of internalized anti Semitism is particularly relevan t when examining his work. Gilman explores this conception of language itself as an important site of identity formation and contestation: Writing plays a central role in defining Jews against the preconceptions of the world in which they find themselves The importance of writing antedates the Enlightenment and is a general model for the articulation of Jewish identity in the West. In Western society the people of the Book meet the people of the books. Western society stresses the centrality of the wr itten word as the icon of civilization,' or culture,' and believes that the Other does not cannot share in this most holy and civil of acts, the act of writing (and the parallel acts of reading and interpretation). The Other cannot ever truly possess t rue' language and is so treated.The reference group sees them as inarticulate because while they use the language for their environment, they can never possess it. Why? Because they have their own hidden language, the language that is the true articulat ion of their Jewishness, the language of Otherness. (15) This linkage of language with identity is not limited to Western Europe, but also plays an important role in Eastern European politics and culture: as Zsuzsa Hetnyi writes, "In East Europe, one of the fundamental experiences of the rising national movements of the 19 th century was that a nation lives in its language" (29). Language and discourse become linked when the way a group speaks is perceived
65 as revealing (or creating) how they think and ac t. Throughout his study, Gilman explicates stereotypes of German and Jewish language and discourse. To many of the writers he examines, the German language embodies Western rationalism and logic, while Yiddish, the language of the Jews, represents the fa ulty logic of the Talmud. As he explains, "Being Jewish and sounding Jewish are linked with acting Jewish," ( Jewish Self Hatred 144). Yuri Slezkine's study of nineteenth and twentieth century Jewish life in Russia supports this relationship between langu age and discourse. In "Babel's First Love: The Jews and the Russian Revolution," Slezkine contrasts popular conceptions of Yiddish and Russian. Russian was, for many, "the language of true knowledge" while Yiddish was "a completely abstract, invented lan guage" or "words composed of unknown sounds" (129). During the time of Babel's childhood, for Jews, "Learning how to speak proper Russianmeant learning how to speak" (Slezkine 129). As Russians perceived Jews as speaking differently from themselves, whe ther they spoke Yiddish or an accented Russian, they also perceived them to think and act differently. Gilman writes, "To be accepted in society means acquiring the reference group's discourse" ( Jewish Self Hatred 16). Gaining access to Russian language and discourse plays a vital role in the narrators' initiations into dominant society in all three stories examined in this thesis. Language, Discourse, and Acceptance in "My First Goose" and "Story of My Dovecote" Before examining how the narrator of "The Awakening" must learn the language and discourse of dominant society to be accepted by Russians, it is beneficial to look back at how access to Russian language and discourse is also linked to dominant society's acceptance in "My First Goose" and "Story o f My Dovecote." As discussed in Chapter One, the narrator of "My First Goose" is a law graduate and journalist, stationed
66 with a largely illiterate Cossack army unit. His intellectual training is established early on in the story, as the division command er immediately asks the narrator whether he can read (Babel 231) [N8 >#.0%4-8? (A.*"?= 287)]. His literacy, embodied by his spectacles, is contrasted with the soldiers' large, strong bodies, of which he is envious. After being initially rejected by the Cossacks, the narrator sits down by himself to read Lenin's most recent speech in a newspaper. Though it is clear that the narrator has highly developed reading and writing skills, he finds himself unable to understand what he is reading: The sun fell on me through the jagged hills, the Cossacks kept stepping over my legs, the young fellow incessantly made fun of me, the beloved sentences struggled toward me over thorny paths, but could not reach me. (Babel 232) H%?-E" <.&.?% -. 0"-; 3( (. (+*'.48$ <#3>%#7%5, 7.(.73 $%&3?3 <% 0%30 -%>.0, <.#"-= <%4":.?9; -.&% 0-%6 *"( +94.?3, 3(?1*?"--8" 94#%'73 :?3 7% 0-" 4"#-394%1 &%#%>%6 3 -" 0%>?3 &%643. (A.*"?= 289) Here, his rejection by the soldiers is linked explicitly t o his inability to read the paper. It is at this point, after he cannot concentrate on or understand the words of Lenin's speech, that the narrator yells at the woman and takes the saber to kill the goose. Once the narrator kills the goose and is asked to join the Cossacks in their meal, he picks up the paper again and can now read and understand each word. The young soldier who had taunted him earlier asks the narrator what the paper says. He reads Lenin's speech aloud to the soldiers, like a triump hant deaf man (Babel 233) [7.7 4%#/"945+1236 >?+$%6 (A.*"?= 290)], and comprehends all of it, even interpreting and admiring Lenin's style: "I read, and rejoiced, waiting for the effect, rejoicing in the mysterious curve of Lenin's straight line," (Babe l 233) [ '34.?, 3 ?37%5.?, 3 <%&94"#">.?, ?37+;, 4.3-945"--+1 7#35+1 ?"-3-97%6 <#;0%6 (A.*"?= 290)].
67 Hence, only after Russian society accepts the narrator is he able to read and understand the Russian newspaper; only after the Red Army soldiers welcom e him into their unit can he comprehend the language and discourse of their Revolution's leader. Their acceptance allows the narrator access to dominant society's language. Similarily, in "Story of My Dovecote," the child protagonist's reading aloud of a text written by a Russian national hero grants him initial access to the Russian world. It is no coincidence that the narrator must achieve the highest score on a Russian language examination to be accepted into the Russian gymansium. As examined in Cha pter Two, he receives two five pluses on his exam by passionately reciting Pushkin's poetry. Yuri Slezkine examines this Jewish Russian phenomenon, writing, "As elsewhere in Europe, the Jewish success in Russian business, the professions, and the artswa s accompanied byan eager conversion to the Pushkin faith" (127). Only by exhibiting a facility with and zeal for Russian language and discourse can the boy begin crossing over to dominant society. The boy's Hebrew and Torah tutor, Monsieur Liberman, int erprets the narrator's high exam score as a victory of brains over brawn. During the feast celebrating the boy's acceptance to the Russian school, he toasts his family for their success: In this toast the old man congratulated my parents, and said that by passing this examination I had won a victory over all my foes, I had won a victory over the fat cheeked Russian boys and the sons of our roughneck rich. Thus in ancient times had David, the King of the Jews, won a victory over Goliath, and just as I had triumphed over Goliath, so too would our people, through its sheer power of mind, triumph over the foes that surround us, eager for our blood. (Babel 605) H4.#37 <%(.53? #%&34"?"6 5 J4%0 4%94" 3 97.(.?, '4% ; <%*"&3? -. J7(.0"-" 59"$ 5#.>%5 0%3$, ; <% *"&3? #+9973$ 0.?='37%5 9 4%?94803 2"7.03 3 98-%5"6 >#+*8$ -.:3$ *%>.'"6. N.7 5 "5-3" 5#"0"-. C.53&, E.#= 3+&"69736, <%*"&3? I%?3.@., 3 <%&%*-% 4%0+, 7.7 ; 5%94%#/"945%5.? -.& I%?3.@%0, 4.7 -.#%& -.: 93?%6 95%">% +0. <%*"&34 5#.>%5,
68 %7#+/35:3$ -.9 3 /&+ 237 -.:"6 7#%53. (A.*"?= 128) Monsieur Liberman confirms a mind/body dichotomy: Russians may be physical giants, but the strength of the Jewish mind can defeat bodily might. Yet, as explored in Chapter Two, the boy soon discovers that his mind is not en ough to protect him in dominant society. Faced with the violence of the Russian world, the narrators of both "My First Goose" and "Story of my Dovecote" find that their developed intellects fail to effectively equip their bodies for survival and acceptanc e outside of their Jewish communities. In both of these stories, the mental capabilities of the narrators themselves remain unquestioned: the Jews' strong minds are enough to enable them to read Russian, to pass examinations, and to graduate from universi ties. Nevertheless, according to the values of dominant society, their minds alone are inadequate, because the narrators lack what is most important they lack strong, developed bodies. Yet, in "The Awakening," when the narrator strives not just to read but also to write Russian literature, this dichotomy shatters. The boy's mentor teaches him that, in this case, his insufficient body and upbringing have also weakened his mind. His mentor shows him, as Gilman writes, "the Other cannot ever truly posses s true' language" ( Jewish Self Hatred 15). His Jewishness renders him incapable of possessing or producing Russian language and discourse. Language and Discourse in "The Awakening" The narrator of "The Awakening" dreams of becoming a Russian writer. W hen practicing violin, he "placed books by Turgenev or Dumas on my music stand, and, as I scraped away, devoured one page after another," (Babel 629) [ !#%3>#85.; 97#3<3'-8" +<#./-"-3;, ; 94.53? -. <1<34#" 7-3>3 N+#>"-"5. 3?3 C10., -3, <3?37.;, <%/3#.? 94#.-3E+ (. 94#.-3:"6 (A.*"?= 154)]. Though Dumas was not a
69 Russian writer, both authors wrote in the majority languages of their countries and were w idely perceived as important contributors to Russian and French literature respectively. In his Jewish home, while he is supposed to be pursuing the Jewish art of the violin, the narrator escapes to the outside world through reading Russian and French nov els. These are the authors he values, the authors of whose worlds he aspires to become a part. He tells stories to other boys in the neighborhood and writes them down when he returns home at night. However, upon meeting Smolich, he discovers that, in th e eyes of dominant society, something is missing in his writing. The narrator meets Smolich while trying to learn to swim. Watching Russian boys play outdoors stealing coconuts, smashing watermelons on the dock, running around without pants (Babel 631), he contrasts their active, outdoor life with his life of study. "My dream now was to learn how to swim. I was ashamed of admitting to those bronzed boys that I, though born in Odessa, had not even seen the sea until I was ten, and that I still could not swim at fourteen" (Babel 631) [ F"'4%6 0%"6 9&"?.?%9= +0"-=" .5.4=. H48&-% *8?% 9%(-.4=9; *#%-(%580 J430 0.?='3:7.0 5 4%0, '4%, #%&35:39= 5 D&"99", ; &% &"9;43 ?"4 -" 53&"? 0%#;, 5 '"#48#-.&E.4= -" +0"? .5.4= (A.*"?= 156)]. When exposed to the Rus sian boys, the narrator begins to feel that there is something inadequate in his upbringing and education. Smolich finds the narrator among other Jewish boys, and leads them to the beach. There, he teaches them how to exercise, to make sandcastles, and t ells them stories of animals and fishermen, all while baking in the hard rays of the sun (Babel 632) [ <#%/.#35.;9= 5 <#;08$ ?+'.$ 9%?-E. (A.*"?= 157)]. Smolich educates the narrator not only about nature, but also about writing. The
70 boy shows him a tragedy he has written. Though Smolich tells the narrator that he had guessed all along that he was a wri ter, and that he has something special within him, he also critizes the narrator's work. "There's something lacking in your work, but what is it?" he asks, "That you are young is no problem that will pass in time. What you lack is a feel for nature" (Babe l 632) [ K">% 4"*" -" $5.4."4?...F%?%&%94= -" *"&., 9 >%&.03 <#%6&"4 N"*" -" $5.4."4 '+945. <#3#%&8 (A.*"?= 157)]. The Russian man takes the narrator for a walk, pointing out trees and bushes and stopping him to listen to bird calls, asking the boy to name each t ree and animal they come across. The narrator is unable to name any, or to answer anything about the foliage or birds: "I couldn't answer. The names of birds and trees, what families they belonged to, where the birds flew, on which side the sun rose, whe n the dew was at its heaviest all this was unknown to me" (Babel 633) [ -3'">% -" 0%> %45"434=. S.(5.-3; &"#"5="5 3 <43E, &"?"-3" 3$ -. #%&8, 7+&. ?"4;4 <43E8, 9 7.7%6 94%#%-8 5%9$%&34 9%?-E", 7%>&. *85."4 93?=-"" #%9. 59" J4% *8?% 0-" -"3(5"94-% (A.*"?= 158)]. The narrator realizes that, regardless of all his studying and reading, Russian society finds his knowledge insufficient. Though he knows the details of the Talmud, he does not know from which direction the sun rises. Not only is his education incomplete, but he is also incapable of writing appropriately in Ru ssian. Smolich questions the narrator: And you have the audacity to write? A man who does not exist in nature the way a stone or an animal exists in it will not write a single worthwhile line in all his life. Your landscapes resemble descriptions of st age sets (Babel 633) [G 48 %90"?35.":=9; <39.4=?..K"?%5"7, -" /35+236 5 <#3#%&", 7.7 /35"4 5 -"6 7.0"-= 3?3 /35%4-%", -" -.<3:"4 5% 591 95%1 /3(-=
71 &5+$ 94%;23$ 94#%7 N5%3 <"3(./3 <%$%/3 -. %<39.-3" &"7%#.E36 (A.*"?= 158)]. Smolich's words deeply affe ct the boy. He returns home, staring at his dinner and unable to eat, obsessing over what he has now internalized as his insufficient, or useless, knowledge. Hence, the boy comes to realize that learning to speak Russian in a way acceptable to dominant s ociety does not merely mean learning enough grammar and vocabulary to pass a Russian language examination, as in "Story of My Dovecote." Smolich shows the narrator that this Russian discourse involves knowledge of and "feel for nature." As the Jewish boy is not fluent in the discourse of the natural world whether living in it or speaking about it he also cannot be fluent in literary Russian. The narrator frames this realization as a kind of emancipation from his stifling Jewish home. He describes the M oldavanka, the Jewish quarter of Odessa, as rotting and foul. Explaining how Mr. Zagursky, the violin teacher, finds his students, he writes, "He went hunting for them in the Moldavanka slums and the reeking courtyards of the old bazaar" (Babel 628) [ D5839735.? 3$ 5 0%?&.5.-973$ 4#+2%*.$, 5 (?%5%--8$ &5%#.$ H4.#%>% *.(.#. (A.*"?= 153)]. The boy's world differs greatly from Smolich's apartment, which he depicts as "a clean, spacious garret" (Babel 632) [ '39486 <#%94%#-86 '"#&.7 (A.*"?= 157)]. Si cher analyzes, "The lure of foreign parts serves to contrast the boy's dream world with his confining, impoverished Jewish home" ( Style and Structure 72). Not only is Smolich's place "clean" and "spacious," in contrast to the dirty, oppressive atmosphere of the Jewish homes, but he also houses many pets, including doves. Doves, of course, recall "Story of My Dovecote," in which the narrator writes that he has "never desired anything more intensely" (Babel 601) [ + 0"-; -" *8?% /"?.-3; 93?=-"" (A.*"?= 124)] than to own doves, and in which this desire causes the
72 narrator to face the violent Russian world. Smolich's owning of doves implies that he has achieved the Russian lifestyle of which the narrator can only d ream. He speaks of his movement from the Jewish to Russian world explicitly as deliverance, calling the first time he skips violin lessons the beginning of my liberation" (Babel 630) [ N.7 -.'.?%9= %95%*%/&"-3" (A.*"?= 155)]. However, Smolich does not merely liberate the narrator from his confining Jewish neighborhood and bookish pursuits. Through the use of religious imagery and metaphor, the narrator compares his new awareness of Russian life, language, and discourse to a spiritual awakening: perhap s the "awakening" to which the title refers. Hetnyi writes: In Awakening we encounter a different kind of escape and a genuine breakout. A spiritual breakout is the realization of the boy, oblivious of nature up to then, that he did not know the names of trees, flowers and birds, and paid no attention to the things around him thus far, turning only inwards. (182) The narrator describes the music lessons themselves in religious language. The room in which the boys take lessons is called "the inner sanc tum" (Babel 630) [ C5"#= 5 95;43?32" %47#85.?.9= (A.*"?= 154)]. He also describes the music coming from the room as an "incantation" [ #.9<"5], which will later be "fine tuned to a diabolical brilliancy" [ &%5%&3? <%4%0 &% &=;5%?=97%>% *?"97.] by a music professor in St Petersburg, to which the Jewish boys are sent after they finish training with Mr. Zagursky in Odessa (Babel 630) [(A.*"?= 155)]. Lastly, and perhaps most notably, when speaking of his disinterest in and lack of talent for playing the violin, he calls th e violin players a "sect," writing, "I had no business being a member of his sect" (Babel 630) [ M J4%6 9"74" 0-" -"'">% *8?% &"?.4= (A.*"?= 155)]. As he does not fit in with the Jewish boys' "sect," he feels he must search elsewhere for meaning. The e xplicitly religious descriptions of the music lessons set up the narrator's later liberation as a spiritual rebirth.
73 Accordingly, Smolich acts as a savior figure, emancipating the boy from his Jewish roots and introducing him to Russian discourse and the w orld of dominant society. The first time Smolich appears in the text, he is called "the local water god" [ 5%&;-%6 *%> 4"$ 0"94 (A.*"?= 156)]. Not only is he a "god," but this initial description also reveals that he is a proofreader for the Odessa News : "The battle of the rabbis with the sea lasted until the local water god Efim Nikitich Smolich, a proofrea der for the Odessa News took pity on me. In that athletic chest of his there was a warmth for Jewish boys" (Babel 631) [ A%#=*. #.553-%5 9 0%#"0 <#%&%?/.?.9= &% 4"$ <%#, <%7. -.&% 0-%6 -" 9/.?3?9; 5%&;-%6 *%> 4"$ 0"94 7%##"74%# D&"9973$ -%5%94"6 W@30 S3 7343' H0%?3'. M .4?"43'"97%6 >#+&3 J4%>% '"?%5"7. /3?. /.?%94= 7 "5#"69730 0.?='37.0 (A.*"?= 156)]. In this introduction, his job and skills as a proofreader are placed side by side with his strong physical body, with his status as the "local water god" and his "athletic chest." As a proofreader of the Odessa newspaper, Smolich is a guardian and gatekeeper of correct and culturally approved Russian prose. This enables him to serve as the narrator's mentor and spiritual guide, leading him in his convers ion to dominant society's discourse. It is therefore fitting that before critiquing his writing, Smolich first tries to teach the boy to swim: their first interaction serves as a metaphor for baptism into Russian culture and language. Furthermore, upon r eading the narrator's play, Smolich tells him, "I believethat there is a divine spark in you" (Babel 632) [ S.&% &+0.4= '4% 5 4"*" "94= 397#. *%/3; (A.*"?= 157)]. This statement establishes their relationship on spiritual terms, implying that the boy a cts as Smolich's disciple. Smolich functions as a savior figure for all the Jewish boys who come to the dock,
74 delivering them from their oppressive Jewish lifestyles. The narrator describes, "Nikitich led crowds of frail little creatures, gathering them up from the bedbug ridden hovels of the Moldavanka" (Babel 632) [ D5"#$%5%&3? 4%?<.03 #.$343'-8$ (.0%#8:"6. S37343' 9%*3#.? 3$ 5 7?%<%5-37.$ -. F%?&.5.-7" (A.*"?= 156)]. Here again, the Jewish quarter is described as filthy and claustrophobic: the boys come from "bedbug ridden hovels." Smolich liberates them from the Jewish quarter, leading them outside and teaching them to build sandcastles, exercise, and fish activities they have never experienced before. The Jewish boys adore him: "Nikitich's stories made the Jewish children collapse with laughter. They squea led and frolicked like puppies. The sun spattered them with creeping freckles, freckles the color of lizards" (Babel 632) [ W5#"6973" &"43 %4 394%#36 S37343'. <%03#.?3 9% 90"$+, %-3 53(/.?3 3 ?.943?39=, 7.7 2"-;4.. H%?-E" %7#%;?% 3$ <%?(+'303 5"9-+:7.03, 5"9-+:7.03 E5"4. ;2"#3E8 (A.*"?= 157)]. In this passage, the Jewish boys do not simply enjoy Smolich's activities. His guidance also acts as a cure for their degenerative, indoor lifestyles. Again, #.$343'-8$ (.0%#8:"6 is more literally translated as "rachitic dwarves." Hence, Smolich provides these boys, who suffer from a disease resulting from lack of exposure to th e sun, with sunlight so much so that they begin to develop freckles. He effectively begins to "cure" them from their "Jewish disease," instructing them in Russian activities and discourse. Along with serving as a savior, Smolich also acts as a father fi gure, taking the place of the narrator's inadequate, Jewish biological father in teaching him about life. In "The Jewish Father: Past and Present," Chaim Waxman notes: the Jewish father was expected to, and did, play a distinctive role as the educator of his sons. This duty, moreover, was fulfilled not merely by financing
75 their formal education; he was also expected to socialize his children into the life of the Jewish community, and to represent its values and interests within the home. This educationa l component of the father's role appears to have been uniquely stressed in Jewish tradition and culture, and indeed was deemed essential to the religious and cultural survival of the Jewish people. (70) Hence, as he explains, the Jewish father's primary t raditional role is to educate his sons. Since the narrator feels that his father fails to prepare him adequately for living in the world, it seems he does not fulfill his appropriate role as a father. However, the son feels that the way his father has ra ised him is deficient because the boy defines the world as the Russian world of dominant society, for which the Jewish father is incapable of preparing him. Barbara Breitman discusses the emasculation of the Jewish father in many Christian societies, writ ing, "Because of the fusion of the archetype of the Jew' with the castrated body' and the feminine,' the Jewish father is significantly devalued" (112). Accordingly, influenced by dominant society's worldview, the narrator speaks of his father (and Jew ish fathers in general) as pathetic and selfish. In describing the music lessons to which all Jewish boys were sent, he writes, "Our fathers, seeing they had no prospects of their own, set up a lottery for themselves. They built this lottery on the bones of their little children" (Babel 628) [ D4E8 -.:3, -" 53&; 9"*" $%&+, <#3&+0.?3 ?%4"#"1. D-3 +94#%3?3 "" -. 7%94;$ 0.?"-=73$ ?1&"6 (A.*"?= 153)]. The narrator portrays the Jewish fathers as hopeless and useless, with no prospects of their own, and will ing to use their children to achieve fame and fortune. The narrator describes Smolich, on the other hand, with unfettered admiration and love. He writes of him, "His cheerful heart was completely devoted to us. It was never disdainful, never miserly, a nd never agitated" (Babel 632) [ D-% *8?% 59" 4+4 ">% 5"9"?%" 9"#&E", -37+&. -" (.-%93?%9=, -" /.&-3'.?% 3 -" 4#"5%/3?%9= (A.*"?=
76 157)]. This devoted man seems to be a marked contrast to his selfish father. The narrator writes that he "loved [Smolich] as only a boy afflicted with h ysteria and headaches can love an athlete. I didn't leave his side, and tried to please him every way I could" (Babel 632) [ <%?1*3? J4%>% '"?%5"7. 4.7, 7.7 4%?=7% 0%/"4 <%?1*34= .4?"4. 0.?='37, $5%#.1236 394"#3"6 3 >%?%5-803 *%?;03. -" %4$%&3? %4 -" >% 3 <84.?9; +9?+/35.4= (A.*"?= 157)]. Though he does not "leave [Smolich's] side," the boy runs away from his father's prescribed music lessons. He loves Smolich because he can offer him something his father cannot: knowledge that dominant society deem s valuable. His Russian mentor teaches him what the boy comes to see as, "the essential things in life. In my childhood, nailed to the Gemara I led the life of a sage, and it was only later, when I was older, that I began to climb trees" (631) [ B.7 <%(& -% <#3:?%9= 0-" +'34=9; -+/-80 5"2.0! M &"4945", <#3>5%/&"--86 7 I"0.#", ; 5"? /3(-= 0+"E., 58#%9:3 94.? ?.(.4= <% &"#"5=;0 (A.*"?= 156)]. The narrator internalizes Russian stereotypes of the Jewish way of life and, like them, deems his Jewish educa tion inessential and misplaced as compared to a Russian fluency in nature. He also employs dominant society's association of the Talmud (of which the Gemara is a part) with Jews' faulty discourse: as Gilman writes, "Not only do Jews speak differently than Christians but they think differently. The Talmud is taken over and over again as the exemplary text in which the blindness of the Jews is manifest" ( Jewish Self Hatred 24). Both Smolich and the boy himself blame his parents for his incomplete education After reading his play, the Russian man asks him, "What could your parents have been thinking of these past fourteen years?" (Babel 633) [D '"0 &+0.?3 '"48#-.&E.4= ?"4 45%3 #%&34"?3? (A.*"?= 158)]. The narrator does not respond aloud, but answers to
77 himself, "What had they been thinking of? Of contested bills and the mansions of Mischa Elman [a boy who has become rich and famous because of his violin training]" (Babel 633) [ D '"0 %-3 &+0.?3?...D* %<#%4"94%5.--8$ 5"79"?;$, %* %9%*-;7.$ F3:3 U?=0.-. (A.*"?= 158)]. Again in this exchange, the boy depicts his parents as self centered and obsessed with the inappropriate aspects of life and raising a child. He accredits his faulty education, body, and language not only to his parents specifically, but to his entire ancestral line. He writes, "It turned out that the ability to swim was beyond my reach. The hydrophobia of my ancestors, the Spanish rabbis and Frankfurt money changers, dragged me to the bottom. Water would not carry me." (631) [ Q0"-8" < ?.5.4= %7.(.?%9= -"&%943/308. M%&%*%;(-= 59"$ <#"&7%5 39<.-973$ #.553-%5 3 @#.-7@+#4973$ 0"-;? 4;-+?. 0"-; 7% &-+. M%&. 0"-; -" &"#/.?. (A.*"?= 156)]. The narrator believes that his Jewish heredity has inhibited his body so much that he literally ca nnot even float in water, and hence, cannot gain an adequate "feel for nature" to write in socially viable Russian. Accordingly, like Russian society, the narrator explicitly attributes his faulty discourse to his Jewishness. Yet, during the last scene o f the story, the reader comes to realize that the narrator's liberation from Jewish life and language is more complicated than he understands. While the entire family eats dinner at home, Mr. Zagursky comes to inform the boy's parents that he has not been attending music lessons. The violin teacher's news throws the narrator's father into a rage. While the boy hides in the bathroom to protect himself, his father screams through the door, "I am an officer! I have an estate. I ride out on hunts. The muz hiks pay me rent. I sent my son to the Cadet Corps. There is no reason for me to lose any sleep over my son" (Babel 634) [ %@3E"#, + 0"-; "94=
78 30"-3". "(/+ -. %$%4+. F+/373 .4;4 0-" .#"-&+. F%">% 98-. ; %4&.? 5 7.&"49736 7%#<+9. F-" -"'">% (.*%434=9; % 0%"0 98-" (A.*"?= 159)]. He throws himself against the door and tries violently to get to the boy. Though the t ext itself includes no explicit evaluation of the validity of the father's statements, the reader realizes that his words must be lies. As we know, he lives in the Moldavanka, the poverty ridden, Jewish district of Odessa. He does not own an estate or re nt land out to Christian peasants. He is not an officer, nor does he ride out on hunts. Rather, as we know from "Story of My Dovecote," the boy's family operates a small store for a living. Through his outburst, the reader comes to understand the fathe r's position. Like his son, he judges his worth in light of dominant society's expectations, expectations he cannot possibly meet. He internalizes dominant society's value system and feels that only serving as an officer or owning an estate grants one tr ue worth. However, as a Jew disadvantaged by Russian society, unable to do either because of popular anti Semitism and laws that prohibit Jews from owning land, he feels himself to be inadequate. Regardless of his personal faults, this feeling of insuffi cency stems from the systemic discrimination and inequality that he experiences. Hence, the reader comes to understand that the boy's father is not simply selfish: rather, the ways that he can care for and raise his son are limited by his status in societ y. As many Jewish boys received societal benefits from succeeding in the world of music (for example, the beginning of the story states that an Odessa boy was released from military conscription because of his violin playing), encouraging his son to study the violin may be one of the only ways he knows for his son to achieve a better, more secure life outside of the "poverty stricken" Moldavanka His father's illusions of a respectable Russian life also reveal that the boy
79 does not only internalize anti S emitism from the outside world, but also from his family who, like him, struggles with navigating contradictory ideals and images. The father finally stops trying to break down the door when his mother, the boy's grandmother, intervenes. Signif icantly, she speaks to him in Yiddish, saying, "Our sorrow is great, it knows no bounds. The last thing we need in our house is blood. I do not want to see blood in our house!" [ S.:" >%#" 5"?37%. D-% -" 30""4 7#."5. N%?=7% 7#%53 -"&%94.5.?% 5 -.:"0 &% 0". -" $%'+ 53&"4= 7#%5= 5 -.:"0 &%0" (A.*"?= 159)]. The grandmother's statement marks the only mention of Yiddish in this Russian language story. Yiddish, as the vernacular of the Jews, stands in direct contrast to Russian: "Yiddish was understood not merely as language' but also as the reflection of the innate falsity of the discourse' of the Jews" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 81) Gilman writes, "The image of the Jew as the speaker of Yiddish, the language of marginality, had a great influence o n Jewish identity formation" ( Jewish Self Hatred 77). Not only is Yiddish a language of marginality, as Gilman calls it. Dominant society also often associates it with the feminine. Many considered Yiddish to be a "'kitchen' language, languages whose ma in function was defined by the gender of the speaker (and in turn defined it)" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 75). As male Jews also spoke Yiddish at home, in the eyes of dominant society, "all Jews spoke like women" (Gilman, Jewish Self Hatred 76). It is n oteworthy, therefore, that only a female figure, speaking in what dominant society would deem a language of Jewish marginalization and femininity, can prevent the boy's father from physically harming him. Even as he struggles to access Russian language an d discourse, in the end, Jewish language itself saves the boy from violence.
80 His grandmother's words reintroduce the boy, and his father, to the Jewish world. Though throughout the story, the boy portrays his parents as self absorbed and even pathetic, his grandmother's statement reminds the reader of his family's situation: their sorrow "knows no bounds." Earlier in the story, upon first visiting the harbor, the boy meets an English sailor, Mr. Trottyburn. Speaking of cigars, he repeats three times t o the narrator, "You have to make your children with your own hands" (Babel 630 631) [ &"4"6 -.&% &"?.4= 9%*945"--%#+'-% (A.*"?= 155)]. However, within the context of the story's plot, it becomes obvious that Mr. Trottyburn's statement applies to more th an cigars. The reader realizes that, in a world of conflicting images and ideals, a world built on inequality and discrimination, the boy's parents cannot realisitically "make [their] children with [their] own hands." Though they do not have the same opp ortunities as Russians or come from homes with the same values, their lives must always be evaluated in relation to Russian society's principles. As a result, the boy faults his father for not appropriately educating him in the skills and lifestyle of dom inant society. What he does not realize is that his father also finds it impossible to reconcile the opposing worldviews of Jewish and Russian culture, either for himself or for his son. The grandmother's Yiddish words force both father and son to face t heir Jewishness. At the end of "The Awakening," to prevent his father from injuring him, the boy's aunt sneaks him out of the house. She takes him to his grandmother's for the night. As they walk, he looks around and thinks of all the birds and trees w hose names he still does not know. Yet, in a final symbolic gesture, "Auntie Bobka held my hand tightly so that I wouldn't run away. She was right. I was thinking of running away" (Babel 634) [ A%*7. 7#"<7% &"#/.?. 0"-; (. <+7+, '4%*8 ; -" +*"/.?. D-. *8?. <#.5..
81 &+0.? % <%*">" (A.*"?= 159)]. Though Peter Constantine translates the last sentence as "I was thinking of running away," a more literal translation would read, "I was thinking of escape." In this way, the story ends unresolved. Though th e boy thinks of "escape," still framing his movement into Russian society, language, and discourse as liberation from his current oppressive life, his aunt holds his hand tightly, physically binding him to his Jewish identity. Though Babel's narrators see k acceptance in the outside world and doubt the viability of their Jewishness, they can never fully separate themselves from their Jewish upbringings or values. Sicher analyzes, "The stance of an outsider does not hide the attachment of Babel's Jewish nar rators to the Jewish world they wish to abandon, and they do not find it so easy to break free from their Jewishness" ("Jewishness of Babel" 83). Accordingly, the narrator of "The Awakening" cannot help but hold on to his Jewish past even as he dreams of escaping to an uncertain future.
82 CONCLUSION: An Impossible Synthesis? "the ultimate definition of the Jewish body has been that of those who hated them." -Melvin Konner, The Jewish Body Just as this study of internalized ant i Semitism in Isaac Babel's short fiction opened with a brief analysis of the first story in the Red Cavalry cycle, it will close with a look at the series' final story, "The Rabbi's Son" [ H8#.**3]. This text depicts the narrator's train ride through Kovel, Ukraine two days after regiments of the Twelfth Army opened the front and devastated the town. He throws potatoes and Trotsky leaflets at the local peasants, who try desperately to jump onto the train. Out of the entire "typhoid ridden muzhik hord e" (Babel 332) [ 43@%(-%" 0+/3'=" (A.*"?= 377) ], only one man reaches out to take a pamphlet. The narrator immediately recognizes the man, remembering him from a visit he paid to Rabbi Motale Bratslavsky's house to celebrate the Sabbath while traveling through Poland wi th the First Cavalry. 16 The man is Ilya Bratslavsky, the Rabbi's son, currently serving in the Red Army. The narrator describes seeing the soldier's wounded body as he brings him up into the train car: It was so painful to see the prince, who had lost his trousers, his back snapped in two by the weight of his soldier's rucksack, that we broke the rules and dragged him up into the railroad car. His naked knees, clumsy like the knees of an old woman, knocked against the rusty iron of the steps. Two fat bre asted typists in sailor blouses dragged the dying man's timid, lanky body along the floor.The girls, their bandy bovine legs firmly planted on the floor, stared coolly at his sexual organs, the withered, curly manhood of the emaciated Semite. (Babel 332) G 4.7 4%034"?=-% *8?% 53&"4= <#3-E., <%4"#;5:">% :4.-8, <"#"?%0.--%>% -.5%&" 9%?&.497%6 7%4%07%6, '4% 08 <"#"94+<35 <#.53?., 54.23?3 ">% 7 9"*" 5 5.>%-. I%?8" 7%?"-3, -"+0"?8", 7.7 + 94.#+$3, 94+7.?39= % #/.5%" 16 This visit is portrayed in "The Rabbi" [R.**3], the story that follows "My First Goose" in the Red Cavalry series
83 /"?"(% 94+<"-"7; &5" 4%?94%>#+&8" 0.:3-39473 5 0.4#%97.$ 5%?%'3?3 <% <%?+ &?3--%" (.94"-'35%" 4"?% +03#.12">%.C"53E8, +<"#:3 5 <%? 7#358" -%>3 -"(.4"6?358$ 9.0%7, 9+$% -.*?1&.?3 ">% <%?%58" '.943, J4+ '.$?+1 7+#'.5+1 0+/"945"--%94= 39'.$:">% 9"034.. (A.*"?P 377) Here, we again confront the image of the weak, feminized Jew. Though Ilya fights in the Red Army, his body is still "timid," "lanky," and "emaciated," and his back is "snapped in two." The narrator compares him to a female, describing his knees as "clumsy like the knees of an old woman. Ultimately, this scene wholly emasculates the Jewish soldier: his pants have fallen off, and two girls, whose "firmly planted" legs contrast his own "clumsy knees," stare at his "withered" genitals. Though this thesis has explored anti Semitic stereotyp es of the Jewish male body, we have yet to touch upon the "first and the most important defining and self defining feature of the Jewish [male] body" circumcision (Konner 34). In countries like Russia where the majority Christian population remains unci rcumcised, the Jewish male's altered genitals serve as a primary site for the value laden differentiation between Jewish and Russian bodies. Gilman explains: The Jew remains the representation of the male as outsider, the act of circumcision marking the J ewish male as sexually apart, as anatomically different. It is important to remember that there is a constant and purposeful confusion through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of circumcision and castration. ("The Jewish Murderer" 119) As examined throughout this thesis, dominant society does not simply perceive the Jewish male body as different, but as inferior. Accordingly, Ilya's "manhood" both his genitals themselves and his masculinity are "withered" in the eyes of dominant society : he becomes emasculated as they view his circumcised penis as a symbolic castration and interpret his Jewishness as a kind of femaleness. The narrator's description of Ilya calls up "a long association in the Western imagination between Jews and the muti lated,
84 diseased, different looking genitalia," an association so "longstandingwithin Western anti Semitism" that it "even infiltrates Jewish self awareness" (Gilman, "The Jewish Murderer" 119 120). This infiltration into self awareness is manifested in t his text as, here again, the narrator employs Russian society's anti Semitic stereotype, pointing out Ilya's "withered, curly" genitals even though he too undoubtedly experienced the Jewish ritual of circumcision as an infant. Yet, even as he descr ibes Ilya's weak body and genitals, writing of him as if of an outsider, the narrator also intimately identifies with him. In a significant, symbolic gesture, the narrator picks up Ilya's "scattered belongings" (Babel 332) [ #.998<.5:3"9; 5"23 (A.*"?= 377)] and packs them into his own suitcase. As analyzed in Chapter One, in Babel's fiction, the contents of trunks often serve as synecdochal representations of their owners' characters, such as the narrator's suitcase filled with manuscripts and ripped clothing, which the young Cossack throws outside the courtyard in "My First Goose." 17 Accordingly, the narrator's filling of his own suitcase (possibly the same suitcase that he carries in "My First Goose") with Ilya's belonging s indicates the narrator's deep identification with him and with what the contents of his suitcase represent. The narrator describes Ilya's possessions: I threw everything together in a jumble, the mandates of the political agitator and the mementos of a Jewish poet. Portraits of Lenin and Maimonides lay side by side the gnarled steel of Lenin's skull and the listless silk of the Maimonides portrait. A lock of woman's hair lay in a book of the resolutions of the Sixth Party Congress, and crooked lines of Ancient Hebrew verse huddled in the margins of Communist pamphlets. Pages of The Song of Songs and revolver cartridges drizzled on me in a sad, sparse rain. (Babel 332) )&"9= 59" *8?% 95.?"-% 50"94" 0.-&.48 .>34.4%#. 3 <.0;473 "5#"697%>% <%J4.. !%#4#"48 O"-3-. 3 F.60%-3&. ?"/.?3 #;&%0. Q(?%5.4%" /"?"(% 17 This same device can be found in the description of the contents of Uncle Lev's trunk in "Story of My Dovecote."
85 ?"-3-97%>% '"#"<. 3 4+97?86 :"?7 <%#4#"4%5 F.60%-3&.. !#;&= /"-973$ 5%?%9 *8?. (.?%/"-. 5 7-3/7+ <%94.-%5?"-36 :"94% >% 9P"(&. <.#433, 3 -. <%?;$ 7%00+-3943'"973$ ?394%5%7 4"9-3?39= 7#358" 94#%73 "5-""5#"6973$ 943$%5. !"'.?=-80 3 97+<80 &%/&"0 <.&.?3 %-3 -. 0"-; 94#.-3E8 !"9-3 <"9-"6 3 #"5%?=5"#-8" <.4#%-8. (A.*"?= 377) In Ilya's belongings, Russian, Communist, and Jewish cultures exist alongside one another. Though as different as "steel" and "silk," medieval Jewish and contemporary Russian thinkers and ways of life coexist within Ilya, and as he picks up Ilya's things, within the narrator's trunk. His possess ions embody the closest synthesis of conflicting worlds and ideals to be found in Red Cavalry ; as Nakhimovsky writes, Ilya exemplifies a "typically Babellian union of opposites" (73). However, as the end of "The Rabbi's Son" proves, within Babel's fictive world, this synthesis remains ultimately impossible. Ilya, the rabbi's son who serves in the Red Army, the Jewish Communist who attempts to reconcile both of his worlds, dies upon meeting the narrator for a second time. The narrator describes his death: He died, the last prince, amid poems, phylacteries, and foot bindings. We buried him at a desolate train station. And I, who can barely harness the storms of fantasy raging through my ancient body, I received my brother's last breath. (Babel 333) D+0"#, <%9?"&-36 <#3-E, 9#"&3 943$%5, @3?.74"#33 3 <%#4;-%7. F8 <%$%#%-3?3 ">% -. (.*84%6 94.-3E33. G ; "&5. 50"2.1236 5 "5-"0 4"?" *+#3 0%">% 5%%*#./"-3;, ; <#3-;? <%9?"&-36 5($%& 0%">% *#.4.. (A.*"?= 378) As Nakhimovsky interprets, "More poigna nt [than anything about his reconciliation of his Jewish and Communist identities] is the fact that Ilya Bratslavsky dies. For the Jewish accompaniment of weakness and death is not overcome here" (96). Ilya's death represents more than just the hopelessn ess of living fully as both a Jew and a Russian. T he narrator labels Ilya "the last prince," implying that he also embodies the end of the
86 fading Jewish world itself. The dying man points toward more than his individual experience and "it is at this poin t that the ordinary name Ilya deserves its alternate translation Elijah. The bearer of the name, the soldier Ilya Bratslavsky, is a prophet of a sort a prophet of troubled assimilation who ends his line in the ranks of the Red Army" (Nakhimovsky 96). Hen ce, Ilya's death reveals the narrator's understanding that the two cultures must remain forever irreconcilable and that the Revolution will soon render Judaism and Jewishness obsolete. Perhaps most remarkable is the narrator's powerful empathy with the dying soldier. Although he struggles with finding himself unable to truly relate to either Cossacks or Jews throughout Red Cavalry he identifies profoundly with Ilya, whom he calls his "brother" and whose last breath he takes into his own "ancient body. Nahkhimovsky writes, "the fate of the Rebbe's son strikes a deep chord in the narrator, who has looked coldly on so much other death and destruction" (97). Ilya's death strikes him so deeply because he sees himself and his own fate within the Jewish so ldier's last moments. As Sicher points out, even at the close of Babel's series about Jewish Russian identity during the Russian Civil War, "the dialectic of Jewish intellectual and Revolution, Jew and Cossack, remains unresolved" ("The Jewishness of Bab el" 107). Though Babel himself died ultimately unaware of what precisely Communism would bring to Jewishness and to Russia in the second half of the twentieth century, he chose to end Red Cavalry with a final suggestion of the impossibility of reconciling dominant and subordinate worldviews. For him, though both he and his narrators tried, internalized anti Semitism remained impossible to navigate. Yet, today, as Jewish communities begin to reemerge after the fall of the Soviet Union, we must find ways t o reframe Babel's
87 questions and to imagine what Jewish Russian identity might come to mean in a post Soviet world.
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89 --. "The Rabbi's Son." The Complete Works of Isaac Babel Ed. Nathalie Babel. Trans. Peter Consta ntine. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 331 333. --. H8#.**3. D&"9973" #.997.(8 R"&. L.S. !3#%/7%5%. F%975.: UBHFD, 2006. 376 378. --. "Story of My Dovecote." The Complete Works of Isaac Babel Ed. Nathalie Babel. Trans. Peter Constan tine. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 601 611. --. G94%#3; 0%"6 >%?+*;4-3. D&"9973" #.997.(8 R"&. L.S. !3#%/7%5%. F%975.: UBHFD, 2006. 124 135. Bartal, Israel. The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772 1881 Trans. Chaya Naor. Philadelphia: Univ ersity of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. Boyarin, Daniel. "Justify My Love." Judaism Since Gender Ed. Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt. New York, NY: Routledge, 1997. 131 137. --. "Masada Or Yavneh? Gender and the Arts of Jewish Resistance." Jews and Other Differences: The New Jewish Cultural Studies Ed. Jonathan Boyarin and Daniel Boyarin. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 306 329. Breitman, Barbara. "Lifting Up the Shadow of Anti Semitism: Jewish Masculinity in a New Light." A Mensch among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity Ed. Harry Brod. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1988. 101 117.
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91 Revolution New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 71 111. --. Style and Structure in the Prose of Isaak Babel' Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1985. Slezkine, Yuri. "Babel's First Love: The Jews and the Russian Revolution." The Jewish Century Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004 105 203. Waxman, Chaim I. "The Jewish Father: Past and Present." A Mensch among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity Ed. Harry Brod. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1988. 59 73. Weissler, Chava. "The Construction of Gender in Yiddish Devotional Litera ture." Voices of the Matriarchs: Listening to the Prayers of Early Modern Jewish Women Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1998. 51 65.
92 Works Consulted Avins, Carol J. "Kinship and Concealment in Red Cavalry and Babel's 1920 Diary." Slavic Review 53.3 (1994 ): 694 710. Babel, Isaac. Red Cavalry The Complete Works of Isaac Babel Ed. Nathalie Babel. Trans. Peter Constantine. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 203 333. --. "First Love." The Complete Works of Isaac Babel Ed. Nathalie Babel. Trans. P eter Constantine. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 612 618. --. "Karl Yankel." The Complete Works of Isaac Babel Ed. Nathalie Babel. Trans. Peter Constantine. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 619 627. Geller, Jay. "(G)nos(e)ology: T he Cultural Construction of the Other." People of the Body: Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective Ed. Howard Eilberg Schwartz. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. 243 282. Klier, John, and Shlomo Lambroza, eds. Pogroms: Anti Jew ish Violence in Modern Russian History Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Levitt, Laura. "Letting Go of Liberalism: Feminism and the Emancipation of the Jews." Postcolonialism, Feminism & Religious Discourse Ed. Laura E. Donaldson and Kwok Pui lan. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. 161 179. Resnick, Irven M. "Medieval Roots of the Myth of Jewish Male Menses." The Harvard
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