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The Lion Seeker
"Here is the South African novel I've been waiting for." - Lynn Freed
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How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

Created: 08/24/14

Replies: 6

Posted Aug. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

Prejudice creates tense moments for Isaac. What role does racial tension play in his development? How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?


Posted Sep. 02, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeanettel

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 53

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RE: How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

In Johannesburg Isaac is considered white and he looks down on blacks as lower class people where as in Lithuania he would be considered a Jew as low as he considers blacks


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RebeccaF

Join Date: 08/24/14

Posts: 12

RE: How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

I found it extraordinary that Isaac, a victim of prejudice himself, would have such ignorant / received opinions about black people in South Africa: "The Black is completely different to the White. Everyone knows what the Black is." (189) I suppose this is part and parcel of him being an "unlikeable" hero; he never completely outgrows his racism, as we might like him to.


Posted Sep. 04, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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catherinem

Join Date: 10/06/11

Posts: 23

RE: How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

This is an interesting question, and both jeanettel and Rebecca share some insightful responses. Gitelle, Isaac's mother, considers her new racial status in Africa, saying "We are Jews but we are Whites here." Now that she feels she is no longer on the bottom of the social heap, she allows prejudicial thoughts and actions to come into her life. This, it seems to me, is not uncommon. Within racial groups, skin color -- often, the lighter the better -- sometimes plays a role. I spent a few years living and teaching on a northern Ojibwe reservation. My high school students often made distinctions -- and disparaging remarks -- between dark-skinned natives and light-skinned natives. I was, at first, surprised by this and then unnerved, realizing, perhaps for the first time, that persecuted people are capable of presecuting others.


Posted Sep. 05, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 149

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RE: How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

In South Africa blacks were treated like Jews were treated in Eastern Europe. Isaac's family emigrated to escape the prejudice and degradation. In Africa " a Jew is a White man." It is the black man who is debased and prejudiced against in Isaac's community


Posted Sep. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

I concur with the previous comments. In Lithuania the Jews, in the view of the Nazis, were at the bottom of the social order. In South Africa, however, Isaac and Gitelle could elevate their status (at least as they defined themselves) by disparaging the Blacks (not unlike the psychological benefit that Meyer and the other Greyshirts received from their attitude toward the Jews). It is unfortunate, and even tragic, that Isaac and Gitelle's Jewish faith, which teaches tolerance and equality, did not inform their racial attitudes. I would like to think that the special relationship that Isaac had with Silas suggests that Issac's perception of Blacks was not as hardened as it might otherwise seem.

An interesting comparison is Yvonne's racial views in contrast to Isaac's. Coming from the privileged class, Yvonne and her status were not threatened by the social rank of others and her self-image was likely elevated by her compassion for Blacks. I don't mean to suggest, though, that Yvonne was insincere in her expressed racial attitudes. Her extraordinary concern for Moses and her actions on his behalf suggest that she truly felt compassion and responsibility for him.


Posted Sep. 25, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RebeccaF

Join Date: 08/24/14

Posts: 12

RE: How do Isaac's views on race compare to what they would have been if he had remained in Lithuania? Is this ironic?

I agree with what MarieA and roberts have said: it is as if Gitelle and Isaac revisit the prejudice they have received as Jews onto the blacks they encounter in South Africa. I thought this a very telling quote about the stigma placed on Jews back in Lithuania: "the Christians knew it was the Jews who were the devil's spawn (after all) and one and the same as the tormenting killers of their Lord in Jerusalem most high, spitting and howling as the nails sunk through the flesh of his holy palms." (178) Through indirect speech, Bonert uses the Christians' own words against them in a sarcastic way.


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