4.1. Jew-Black Conflicts and The Tenants091
4.2. Jew-Black Alliances and The Tenants 095
4.3. Happy Ending and Alliance0102
4.4. Sad Ending and Assassinations0106
5.1. Summing Up0113
5.3. Suggestions for Further Research0121
1.1. General Background
Bernard Malamud (April 26, 1914 – March 18, 1986), a great prolific American Jewish writer of 20th century, was born into a Russian-Jewish immigrant family. His major concern in most of his works is the problem of the Jews in world and the prevalent racial issues of his era. Professionally speaking, being a Pulitzer Prize for his novel against discriminations on Jews, The Fixer (1966) is one of his life time achievements.
His novels include the tragic-comic element and pessimism that Malamud uses with his unique style of writing, displaying the challenges of modern urban life with focus on marginalized characters who struggle to survive through love and forgiveness rooted in Judeo-Christian beliefs (Pinsker, 205-211). The Tenants (1971) is one of his famous novels which revolves around the Black-Jewish relationship in 20th century USA.
Specifically speaking, The Tenants is the story of two writers, one Jewish and the other Black, about their conflicts and communication in a tenement located in New York with no appropriate conditions for living. The novel opens with Harry Lesser (Jewish writer) having spent nine and half years finishing his book and refusing to leave the tenement belonging to Mr. Levenspiel until his last chapter of the novel is completed.
Lesser is not the only character from a minority group settling that tenement. While he is following his routine life of writing his novel, second character from Black minority appears and from that point on their interaction triggers a latent fear and hatred which come to its zenith in a tragic scene in one of the endings of the novel. In this pathetic scene both writers become victims of each other’s hatred ending up, in one of the endings of the book, killed by one another and Lesser’s ten year manuscript burned by Willie (The black character). And in the other ending, which is a happy one and where multiracial marriages take place, a more detailed consideration is required.
Though created by Malamud’s creative and imaginative mind, the dramatic frictions of two main characters throughout the story were the direct reflection of the social and political current salient and challenging in Malamud’s life time. The concepts that are worth consideration in The Tenants are Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Anti-Black Racism in American Society with its multicultural setting and how the construction of American identity in the modern era for Jews and Blacks is affected by ethnocentrism, religion and the history behind the two cultures. To grasp the inner atmosphere of the story and what had occupied Malamud’s mind, a cursory glance at racism history seems helpful.
Racism and its related movements in USA are well known through the world. The Blacks, the Jews and other minority groups have struggled to make themselves free from the racists’ burdens and this created an atmosphere of alliance and support between minority groups and encouraged the leaders of each minority speak for the right of not only his race but also other minorities. Therefore, it is not strange to hear that Jewish leaders and Black revolutionary vanguards defended each other in the face of White-Christian mainstream. Despite this unity, after 1950s some changes and shifts began to burgeon. The Jews trend in surrendering part of their identity to achieve the mainstream approval was one of the starting points of their difference with the Blacks. They continued to develop socially and economically and even as writers they devoted part of White-American literary canon to themselves and their works found readers among White Christian people. They accepted to obey the grammatical rules defined by mainstream while black writers were completely reluctant to surrender even their writing style.
Quite contrary with the Jews were the Blacks who detested losing their identity in favor of getting the Whites’ admission. Their writers, as mentioned above, continued to follow their own language, style of writing and vocabulary which were different from those of the Whites. Following the story, reader would find the same tendency in Lesser, the Jewish writer, and Willie, the Black writer. Willie is abhorrent to accept the grammatical rules of the mainstream. That is why while reading and revising Willie’s manuscript, Lesser criticizes him for not following the regular writing rules and this shows Lesser’s acceptance of mainstream rules and his idea of Willie’s wrong deed not to obey it.
Not only in writing but also in most of their life affairs, the Blacks continued to ask for their rights. Not accepting the Whites’ norms they remained the others while the Jews came free of being the other. The chains of alliance were broken and these two minority groups stood in two opposite poles and hatred emerged in their daily life interaction. The Tenants is a meticulous observation of these two writers’ reaction to each other and their emotional and psychological response. Willie releases his anger and terror in his innovative writing wherein he kills and even eats the Jews including Lesser several times.
These concepts and Jews and Blacks Nationalism as marginalized figures in America and the relationship between them, have been the subject of interest of many critics; among them the African-American critic Cornel Ronald West’s (1953) ideas are worth consideration. West is a Black-American civil-right activist addressing such issues as multiculturalism, racism, socialism and focusing on African-American studies. He contributed to post-1950s civil right movement and led most of his activities around gender, race, and class in American society and showed his interest in these fields from early youth. West’s school of thought circles around the history of discrimination, the peace moments between two cultures and the roots of hatred in regard to many factors including religion. West calls America a “Racist Patriarchal” (Race Matters, 90) and as he believes in one of his bestselling books, Race Matters (1993) “As long as black people are viewed as a them the burden falls on blacks to do all the cultural and moral work necessary for healthy race relations. The implication is that only certain Americans can define what it means to be American—and the rest must simply fit in” (West, 3).
In West ideas, Black inferiority and self-degradation facing White settlers superiority, undermined their genuine feeling of true citizens, as a result a dormant feeling of fear, fake identity and hatred emerged to define their everyday life. A good example of what West is focusing on is seen in the relationship between two characters in The Tenants. As he indicates, “Recent debates on the state of black-Jewish relations have generated more heat than light. Instead of critical dialogue and respectful exchange, people have witnessed several bouts of vulgar name-calling and self-righteous finger-pointing” (West, Race Matters, 71). The reader faces the same matter at one ending of The Tenants as Willie calls Lesser “Blood suckin Jew Nigger hater” and Lesser calls Willie “Anti-Semitic Ape” (The Tenants, 90).
Reading The Tenants in the light of Cornel West’s ideas makes the researcher interested to appoint them to this novel. What makes this analysis more interesting is the two very different endings of the novel which proposes more questions and more considerations of the two characters’ relationship with one another and with other people in the society.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
America is a multicultural country and home of a variety of ethnic groups with different cultures and religions, so it seems that friction and collision between minorities is a common problem there and has been the subject matter of many surveys and novels. The Blacks and the Jews are two groups which have been experiencing this tough situation from 1950s on. It was before 1950s that there was short alliance between the two cultures at the time of The Civil Rights Movements in America toward the freedom for Africans and other marginal figures but the discrimination factor and ethnocentrism has continued to be felt and lived through the stereotypes believed by people up to the present time. What makes the matter even more complex is how the members of each marginal group as Jews and Blacks feel and treat each other, the conceptions they have of one another and the self-degradation beliefs in their relationships.
As the former Harvard lecturer on history and literature, Edmund Spevack (1963-2001), quotes from the African American civil right activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) in his essay on “Racism and Multiculturalism in Bernard Malamud’s The Tenants” (1997) “W.E.B. Du Bois warned in 1903 that the main problem of the twentieth century would be the color line; indeed, the burning issues of economic, social, and cultural inequality among racial groups in America were not solved, but became ever more complex and urgent” (Spevack, 33). Besides, he cites Henry Louis Gates (1950), the African American writer and literary critic in the same essay, “We might as well argue that the problem of the twenty-first century will be the problem of ethnic differences, as these conspire with complex differences in color, gender, and class” (Spevack, 50).
As pointed out before, in the twentieth century and also at the present time, the main problem of such multinational country as America is how to deal with the difficulties and tensions raised between the minorities like those of Black and Jewish people. The world of The Tenants is indicative of this modern social and political phenomenon that has cast a shadow over the life of two main characters, Lesser and Willie, through story. As West indicates in his book Race Matters,
Black anti-Semitism and Jewish anti-black racism are real, and both are as profoundly American as cherry pie. There was no golden age in which blacks and Jews were free of tension and friction. Yet there was a better age when the common histories of oppression and degradation of both groups served as a springboard for genuine empathy and principled alliances. Since the late sixties, black-Jewish relations have reached a nadir (Race Matters, 71).
Although very few and very short, there are moments in the novel when two characters seem friendly and sympathetic toward each other, for example when Willie gives his manuscripts to Lesser to read and revise, or inviting Lesser to the party, when Lesser hides Willie from the owner of the tenement, who is also a Jew, when Willie supports Lesser from the physical attack of his friends and many other instances from novel’s close reading that researcher thinks as likely to be seen in great accordance with Cornel West’s ideas about short alliance.
Apart from the conflicts mentioned previously, Malamud’s style in development of his writing and characters are to be analyzed which includes the clashes between two marginal cultures of Jews and Blacks, the history and roots behind them in the account of Cornel West ideas and how the roots affect the relationship between the two characters in novel The Tenants, the African-American relationship, (or the Black-Jewish relationship, the term used by West), their bigotry toward each other and their hard times living together and with other people in the society are going to be highlighted.
1.3. Objectives and Significance of the Study
The researcher was mostly interested in The Tenants because of the two very different endings of the novel that consider the very important factor whether the Jew and Black cultures can get into alliance by forgetting the bias over each other. Whereas some people deny the racial discrimination against Blacks and Jews in modern, industrialized, and multi-ethnic societies, the researchers have declared the contrary.
Various books, essays and novels written on racial discrimination against minorities specially Blacks and Jews show the importance of the issue and among them is The Tenants that shows this discrimination in its most clearing perspectives and two endings proposed by Malamud which are of high importance. A small society of the tenement is the basis of a whole city and when the basis is corrected, then a whole country is saved and a whole world accordingly.
As West indicates, serious conflicts that happen in present societies especially in America are based on the same matter and what happened in Los Angeles in April 1992 was neither a race riot nor a class rebellion but a multiracial, trans-class, and largely male display of justified social rage which was the consequence of a lethal linkage of economic decline, cultural decay, and political lethargy in American life. And Race was the visible catalyst not the underlying cause (Race Matters, 12).
Professor W. D. Wright (1936), a racism critic, in one of his books quotes W.E.B Du Boise, “The race problem is not insoluble if the correct answer is sought. It is insoluble if the wrong answer is insisted upon as it has been insisted upon for thrice a hundred years.’’ (Wright, 7) and the researcher wants to check how it is important if it is the same case with the two characters of the novel The Tenants. As mentioned before, this novel has two endings and the happy ending section of the novel is finished with such sentence, “Now you are man and wife. I feel like crying, but why should I cry if the Lord says, ‘Rejoice!’” (The Tenants, 83) It indicates an alliance which researcher believes is in accordance with West’s ideas about the relationship between two cultures as he mentions, “Jews and Blacks have been linked in a kind of symbiotic relation with each other. Whether they are allies or antagonists, they are locked into an inseparable embrace owing their dominant status of degraded Others, given the racist Christian character of the American past and present” (Race Matters, 4).
On the contrary, the sad ending indicates how racial conflicts might affect not just the lives of the two main characters who kill one another with a knife and an axe but also how other people’s lives might be influenced as there will be such questions as what will happen to Mary, Irene or Levenspiel when the novel ends with him saying “Mercy, the both of you, for Christ’s sake, Hab rachmones, I beg you. Mercy on me” and he repeats the word merci one hundred and sixteen times (The Tenants, 90). This research is an effort to imply West’s concepts about the Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Anti-Black Racism in Malamud’s innovative novel via tracing noticeable examples in characters’ private life affairs and also the importance of Malamud’s choice to end novel in such sentences:
Their metal glinted in hidden light, perhaps starlight filtering greenly through dense trees. Willie’s eyeglass frames momentarily gleamed. They aimed at each other accurate blows. Lesser felt his jagged axe sink through bone and brain as the groaning black’s razor-sharp saber, in a single boiling stabbing slash, cut the white’s balls from the rest of him. Each, thought the writer, feels the anguish of the other (The Tenants, 90).
This thesis endeavors to delineate and analyze the clashes of two ethnic characters’ conflicts of The Tenants based on their racial, religious, economic, and social situation in the society of USA. This novel is considered to be the microcosm of USA Society’s macrocosm; therefore, any exact scrutiny of Jew and Black characters of The Tenants gives this opportunity to the researcher to show the same clash and racial discrimination in the multiethnic society of USA through Cornel West’s ideas about Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Anti-Black Racism in this society.
1.3.2. Purpose of the Study
Racial discrimination and its related revolutionary movements have a long history in USA quite against this common assumption that racism is an issue only between White Americans and Black population; it is a more serious problem that has gone beyond White-Black and even Christian White- Jewish White population of USA. The radical shift in this paradigm has occurred since 1950s on and a new conflict appeared not between mainstream and minorities but between minorities among which Black-Jewish relationship is of the more significance and it is referred to as Blacks Anti-Semitism and Jewish Anti-Black Racism.
Many books, articles, short stories and criticism were produced around this issue among which Bernard Malamud is worth mentioning. The purpose of this study is to scrutinize The Tenants, wherein he has depicted the Black-Jewish relationship in USA through two main characters. This research is lame unless Cornel West’s ideas are used. In short this research is an effort to study the Black-Jewish relationship in The Tenants using Cornel West’s ideas.
1.3.3. Research Questions
1- What is the so called ‘Golden Age’ of Jew-Black alliance? What factors unraveled this alliance and what are its consequential outcomes?
2- What are the social, economic, religious and racial factors that have created Black Anti-Semitism & Jewish Anti-Black Racism in melting pot society of USA?
3- What is the role of Jewish and Black Nationalism in their further segregation?
4- How does Malamud shatter Realistic allusion by the literary allusion throughout The Tenants? Is it his style of highlighting the issues between Jews and Blacks?
5- To what extent is it possible to regard The Tenants pointing apocalyptically toward a resolution of Malamud’s time woes between Jewish and Black cultures?
6- What is the role of blackness in Willie’s life and what is the role of Jewishness (a term by Cornel West) in Lesser’s life? Are they parallel concepts? Is it related to the skin color in The Tenants?
7- What is the reason (psychological, social, or political) for The Tenants Jews and the Blacks hatred and self-degradation interacting with each other in their daily life?
8- What is the significance of the temporary moments of alliance between Lesser and Willie?
9- Is The Tenants open ended? What is the significance of open-endedness in relation to Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Anti-Black Racism?
1.4. Materials and Methodology
A close reading of Bernard Malamud’s The Tenants and finding and analyzing the Jew’s Anti Black Racism and Black’s Anti-Semitism, using West’s ideas is alongside with the differences and similarities shared by the Jew and Black cultures and their prevalent conflicts which have become the problematic debate of the recent decades. In this regard West has talked about the history as an element beyond Jew and Black cultures; religion and how it has affected the interaction between these two cultures’ social life; Jews’ assumptions of the Blacks and vice versa and also Blacks’ assumptions about Blacks; and Jews about Jews and how self-degradation is considered to be one of the most important factors leading into discrimination (Prophetic Fragments, 65).
In addition, there seems to be an innovative narratology to the novel and this makes the researcher interested to read the novel shedding light on narrators’ manner to introduce characters from the beginning to the end, how characters are developed based on their race and how it affects reader’s perceptions of them. The narrator is mostly third person but at times it mingles with the first person narrator introducing the thoughts of the Jew character and giving the readers this opportunity to view other characters through the lenses of an insider. In these implicit narratology shifts reader sees no distinction between the utterances belonging to the first and third person narrators but observes an internal focalization attached to the Jew character, Harry Lesser which gives internal focalized and makes the reader have less access to the conceptions of the Black character toward the Jew except for his actions and talks. Being attached to one character makes the reader doubtful about the sentences uttered by the Black character and its authenticity. As the matters are viewed by one person it also gives the reader the feeling of lack of reliable narrator and how it makes the reading of the novel different.
Based on the notions introduced by West, researcher seeks to find the possibility of viewing The Tenants into four parts or dividing it to four distinct sections. The first part is from the beginning of the novel to where the two Jew and Black character meet. In this section West’s idea of the perceptions of Jews on Blacks along with his ideas of the social life of the marginal figure are likely to be seen as it is shown in the development of the Jew protagonist and the main character, Harry Lesser through the mind of reader with glimpse of his social life and conditions. The second section is from when the Jew character sees the Black writer and they talk for the first time to the part they start to become closer in relationship which is likely to be seen in West ideas of religion and the history behind the two cultures.
The third part is assumed to be when the reader does not see progress in the relationship and is presented with an awkward feeling in the relationship which is likely to be considered in West ideas of Jews and Blacks recent debates despite the past alliances. The forth part which the researcher thinks of as the most important section of the novel is itself divided into two parts, one finishing with trans-racial marriages of the Jew with a Black and the Black with a Jew and the other ending with the women leaving the two characters and finally death of the Jew and Black by each other. Also how West’s ideas of religion, history and conceptions of Blacks and Jews of regarding each other affect these sections as Abramson indicates “Each character is aware of what words will most hurt the other’s racial or ethnic pride, and this reaches its peak in Willie’s violent anti-Semitic stories which equate all that he hates in whites with the Jews” (Abramson, 91).
در این سایت فقط تکه هایی از این مطلب با شماره بندی انتهای صفحه درج می شود که ممکن است هنگام انتقال از فایل ورد به داخل سایت کلمات به هم بریزد یا شکل ها درج نشود
شما می توانید تکه های دیگری از این مطلب را با جستجو در همین سایت بخوانید
ولی برای دانلود فایل اصلی با فرمت ورد حاوی تمامی قسمت ها با منابع کامل
1.5. Definition of Key Terms
Anti-Semitism: According to Oxford dictionary it is hostility to or prejudice against Jews. In this research the term is used against Jewish anti-Black racism which was proposed by Blacks and as Cornel West puts it in his book Race Matters, Black anti-Semitism rests on three basic pillars. First, it is a species of anti-Whitism. Secondly it is from higher expectations that Blacks have of Jews as they were natural allies since both groups have suffered chronic degradation and oppression at the hands of racial and ethnic majorities. So when Jewish neo-conservatism gains a high public profile at a time when black people are more and more vulnerable, the charge of ‘betrayal’ surfaces among black folks who feel let down and finally it is routed from the fact that Jews were much more successful in their social lives than Blacks were as West puts is “black anti-Semitism is a form of underdog resentment and envy, directed at another underdog who has ‘made it’ in American society” (Race Matters, 7).
Christian anarchism: According to Oxford Advanced Dictionary, it is any of several traditions which combine anarchism with Christianity. Christian anarchists believe that freedom is justified spiritually through the teachings of Jesus. This has caused them to be critical of government and Church authority. Some believe all individuals can directly communicate with God, which negates the need for a system of clergy. As a French–Greek author and politics lecturer, Alexandre J.M.E. Christoyannopoulos (1979) believes, Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology and political philosophy which synthesizes Christianity and anarchism and later in his book he indicates, “it is grounded in the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable, the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus, and thus rejects the idea that human governments have ultimate authority over human societies. Christian anarchists denounce the state as they claim it is violent, deceitful and, when glorified, idolatrous” (Christian Anarchism, 246).
Ethnocentrism: It is defined in Oxford Dictionary as the tendency to believe that one’s ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one’s own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and sub-divisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity. As the American professor of comparative history George M. Fredrickson (1934-2008) mentions in his book Racism, “ethnic identity is created by the racialization of people who would not otherwise have shared an identity. (Blacks did not think of themselves as blacks, Negroes, or even Africans when they lived in the various kingdoms and tribal communities of West Africa before the advent of the slave trade.) From this perspective, racism is the evil twin of ethnocentrism. The latter may involve racialism in Appiah’s sense but can also be based on individual cultural identities that are not viewed as unchangeable” (155). He further explains “The classic sociological distinction between racism and ethnocentrism is helpful, but not perhaps in the usual sense, in which the key variable is whether differences are described in cultural or physical terms. It is actually quite difficult in specific historical cases to say whether appearance or ‘culture’ is the source of the salient differences, because culture can be reified and essentialized to the point where it has the same deterministic effect as skin color. But we would be stretching the concept of racism much too far if we attempted to make it cover the pride and loyalty that may result from a strong sense of ethnic identity. Such group-centeredness may engender prejudice and discrimination against those outside the group, but two additional elements would seem to be required before the categorization of racism is justified.” (169)
Other: The term is employed throughout critical discourse in different ways, otherness names the quality or state of existence of being other or different from established norms and social groups; the distinction that one makes between one’s self and others, particularly in terms of sexual, ethnic and relational senses of difference; in Lacanian psychoanalysis, there is the other and the Other: the former signifies that which is not really other but is a reflection and projection of the ego; the latter signifies a radical alterity irreducible to any imaginary or subjective identification. (Wolfreys, 74)
Segregation: As defined in Oxford Dictionary it is practice of maintaining separation between members of different races. Segregation is also defined by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as “the act by which a (natural or legal) person separates other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds without an objective and reasonable justification, in conformity with the proposed definition of discrimination”. According to Professor W. D. Wright, “Whites established and maintained slavery, inundated the general culture and social institutions with racist beliefs, thinking, power, and cruelty, and promoted racist segregation, all of which continuously undermined, assaulted, and violated the ideal and the practice of freedom” (Racism Matters, 92).
Xenophobia: As Oxford dictionary indicates, it is a strong feeling of dislike or fear of people from other countries. As the Italian politician and journalist Guido Bolaffi (1946) believes “Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an in-group towards an out-group, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an ‘uncritical exaltation of another culture’ in which a culture is ascribed ‘an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality’” (Dictionary of Race, Ethnicity and Culture, 332). In this research the term indicates religious and ethnic Xenophobia.
1.6. Motivation and Delimitation
As an African-American leader and critic, Cornel West has discussed a vast range of concepts such as race, humanity, democracy, individualism, dignity, etc. He has published many works and has supported his ideas in his lectures at Princeton and Harvard universities. Among his best works are Black Theology and Marxist Thought (1979) in which he has offered a critical integration of black theology and Marxism in regard to the shared human experience of repressed and suppressed people as victims facing Subsidiarity Christian anarchism (Bradley). In his other book The Future of American Progressivism (1998) he with co-operation of Robert Unger (1947), the social theorist, politician and law professor at Harvard Law School, offer ways of returning the United States to the deepest goal of democracy which is to realize the greatest potential of all citizens and he poses the concepts of equality and shared participation by all citizens in this book.
West’s other bestselling works include Race Matters (1993), Prophetic Fragments: Illuminations of the Crisis in American Religion and Culture (1993) and Jews and Blacks: A Dialogue on Race, Religion, and Culture in America (1996) in which he raises a wide range of issues such as Nihilism in Black America, Racial Reasoning, Black leadership, equality and identity, religion versus Politics and Black-Jewish relations that among them the aim of the researcher will be on the concepts which concentrate on equality, identity and Black-Jewish relations, the factor of alliance, history and religion causes behind the two cultures which are thought to be the main concepts of Bernard Malamud’s The Tenants, as the main motif of the novel is summarized in two sentences said by the characters as the Jew calls the Black Anti-Semitic Ape and the Black calls the Jew Blood suckin Jew Nigger hater.
What has made the researcher to choose this novel and Black Anti-Semitism & Jewish Anti-Black Racism in the USA multiethnic society is the hidden friction between minorities that still is lingering between such ethnic groups as Jews and Blacks. The Tenants is a microcosm of USA macrocosm where Jewish writer Lesser and his Black counterpart Willie are undergoing fructuous moments of solidarity and antagonism repetitively.
In short, the focus of the researcher will be mainly on West’s ideas circling around Jews and Blacks relations and their discrimination in American Society, the roots of their struggles and conflicts, how their religious and historical background have affected the present interaction of the Jews and the Blacks, and the role of the old alliance between them and its diminish from 1950s on. Although the novel can be read in different perspectives as gender analysis or psychological approach, the researcher limits this research to the aforementioned concepts proposed by West and would like to trace them in The Tenants, between two main characters of the novel, a Jew and a Black, their relationship with each other and with other people in the society and how self-degradation is seen between them.
1.7. Organization of the Study
This study consists of five chapters. The first chapter is the introduction of the study, including general background, statement of the problem, objectives and significance of the study, review of literature, materials and methodology and organization of study. The second chapter will be the discussion of ethnocentrism and Jew-Black discrimination explaining the history of black’s anti-Semitism and Jew’s anti-black racism, religion, The Civil Rights Movement and the alliance, and then Jew-Black social life in America and the related conceptions like Black Nationalism and Jewish nationalism and Jews-Blacks and white Christian society. The third chapter is the detailed analysis and clarification of Ethnocentrism in the novel, The Tenants. The fourth chapter is going to state and elucidate Jew-Black communication in The Tenants, considering different realizations of conflicts and alliances between Jews and Blacks in different parts of the novel. The final chapter will be the conclusion of the study.
Ethnocentrism and Jew-Black Discriminations
In human communities any biased tendency to consider something better or higher than others will lead to ethnocentrism and consequently in such notions as racism, pride, superiority. This results in assuming the minorities as the Others, who are incompatible with the rules of the inner-groups. Leading societies in this manner will inevitably limit the human potentials and free flow of opinions and ideas. Ethnocentrism will enforce minorities to wear a mask in their social communications to be assumed as insiders. Such biased discrimination is not a new topic and has been from the ancient times when a group of people were in service of rulers and emperors and devoted all their lives to their masters and this continued through slavery and exploiting so called inferior races in favor of superior ones.
Ethnocentrism is not a new issue in social and academic fields yet controversial and unsolved. The oxford dictionary defines it as “ideas and beliefs of one particular culture and using these to judge other cultures.” Indeed, it refers to a set of values determined and defined by the majority in the society to evaluate and assess those of minority groups and it contains various and extended cases including religion, culture, art, language, literature and even life style and things of the same ilk.
The modern societies in spite of high-tech facilities and flourishing technology are still afflicted with the same plight. Although not as harsh and overt as previous decades and before the emancipation of slavery and the motto of human equality and democratic societies, the modern communities are still witnesses of such discriminations in their ideological structures. Today under the aspiration of human rights and freedom, minorities are trying to make their voice heard among the mainstream and their struggles to fulfill this aim creates the moments of tension and crisis for them. Each minority group tries to have its voice and face, so they try hard to overcome other minorities to have the most audible voice.
In such multicultural society as the USA where immigrants have gone to fulfill their American Dream, this diversity has accelerated cultural confrontations. This is the society where Jews and Blacks, among other minorities, try to overpass their heinous and suppressed past imposed by white Christians to be part of the American society. They are among prominent minorities of American society with active and prominent moments of human right movements in their worksheet.
It is clear that ethnocentrism is concerned with discrimination because as mentioned before, in an ethnocentric society the mainstream is the touchstone for rating people’s treatment and those who are far from the ruling ideology of the dominant majority will be treated unfairly and subjectively. This bias will label some people as inferior and some as superior and each person appropriate to this label is allowed to enjoy the social welfare and opportunity.
The same discrimination can be found in the multi-ethnic society of America, among which Jews and Blacks are the subject of this research. The USA has a long history of its Afro-American and American-Jews settlers interaction with each other which sometimes has been in peace and tranquility and sometimes in friction and confrontation. Any of these two tendencies toward occurred according to the external forces and threats to these two minorities.
This chapter seeks to depict the hostile history of two prominent minorities of the USA, Jews and Blacks, and also show their transitory moments of peace and alliance to defend their neglected rights in white Christian society of the USA.
2.1. Black’s Anti-Semitism and Jew’s Anti-Black Racism
Talking about ethnocentrism is not separate from such controversial topics as racism. In oxford dictionary racism is defined as, “unfair treatment of people who belong to a different race; violent behavior toward them.” Racism and assuming some group of people and races superior to others is the real reason that triggers most of social strata’s conflict. Some ethnic races assume themselves as the chosen people to save the land of God. They might assume themselves as the better ones to survive and save the genuine race of human beings. Each ethnic group with dominant power tries to show other groups as worthless. Most of the time religion and color are the determining factors for accepting some people as insiders and throwing others as the Other.