Page 72 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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The sub-plot o f
The crossing point
concerns a family which is
already established, the Gabriel household. The father is a latter-
day tyrant. One daughter o f four, Rebecca is married and con­
forms to parental expectations. Sara, whom Leo loves so erratic­
ally, is a borderline case. She does her own thing, but she also
tends to her faher, whom she perceives as weak and in need of
support. Essie is the rebellious one who marries out. Fagy, the
youngest, is casually pretty and manages to combine the virtues of
independence with an apparent softness and unwillingness to
offend. Within the family we have a wide range of reaction. Leo
obscures the actual situation in his bumbling, artificial way, and
he also misinterprets it. The marriage that he is about to contract
at the novel’s end will probably lead to another unsatisfactory
family. The situation of Jewish marginality, with aspirations out­
wards and inwards, is to be perpetuated.
Brian Glanville, in
The bankrupts
, attempts to set a story of
young rebellion against a setting described as typical in Jewish
Britain. The background of the family into which Rosemary
Frieman is born and of whose dissatisfaction we are told was . .
straightforward and familiar, in all but detail, the story o f a thou­
sand other Jewish immigrants.” The author here generalizes
from a specific situation in regard to the family, which does not
necessarily mean that the reader is also to take the plot o f the
novel as typical. It may be that “detail” which sets off the coming
story from the generality, and that is decisive for its individual
quality. In regard to aspirations, values, way of life, etc. the
Frieman parents are presumed to be unexceptional, just as their
background is unexceptional and their family immigration is
unexceptional. Rosemary too in fact, this twenty-year-old girl, is
not of very unusual inclinations or talent. She does not work or
study systematically. She stays at home and seems generally con­
tent to accept life as it comes and, presumably, to accept marriage
when a reasonable prospect is presented. However, one thing
grates on her. To her mind and for her level of Anglicization (the
limited knowledge that she possesses is of an English world and of
a limited non-Jewish world), her parents are unspeakably vulgar.
In the mould indicated above, the father is dominating and the
mother compliant. But we have here a slight variant on the basic