Page 30 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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spouts pure absurdity in the manner of a berserk computer, gradu-
ally wins the allegiance of the others, all of whom avidly discuss
their empty ideas. All have an impotency in common and end
the chaotic class by individually seeking out marijuana, milk to
ward off ulcers, and the robot Mr. Carpentier in order to discuss
etymology. What is intriguing is the division of the class into
equally pretentious blacks and, if one can be accurately led by
the names given the characters, the sort of aging Jewish poets
Jones described in
Dutchman.
Divergence in Treatment of the Jew
There is certainly a divergence in the treatment of the Jew in
recent American drama. Arthur Miller concludes, it would seem,
that we must turn our faces from the microcosm of ethnic or reli-
gious identity to the macrocosm of humanitarianism with full
awareness of its frailty and horrors. Bruce Jay Friedman represents
the dramatic counterpart of the Portnoy Syndrome, comically de-
picting the inability of the young Jew to divorce himself from the
securities of youth, mother and neighborhood. The black drama-
tists vitally concerned with survival in dignity, have utilized Jew-
ish characters or peripheral references to Jews in order, it would
appear, to contrast their own immediate and vast hungers with
a people they feel have grown too secure, whose wants and sense
of vengeance have been diluted into neuroses. The black play-
wright seems to suggest that while the ghetto has ceased being a
force for the Jew, it may yet be welded by their literature into a
phalanx which will burst its borders into freedom.