24 August 2009

Henry Roth

Check out Judith Oster's excellent analysis of this scene from Henry Roth’s Mercy of a Rude Stream:

Mom, attuned to sorrow as she was, ... stroked his arm. “Mein orrim kindt. Sit down. Sit down, pleese .... So is it shoyn millt alle fon us, vee menshen. You should excuse mine English.... Alles mus’ go sleep, mein kindt, tsi rich, tsi poor.” ...

“Talk English, Mom,” Ira rebuked....

“I don’t mind your mother speaking Yiddish,” Larry assured Ira earnestly. “You seem to think I do. I really don’t. I can’t tell you why.”

“It’s atavistic,” Ira quipped uneasily.

“No, there’s something warm about it. Honestly. Please don’t stop her. Don’t be embarrassed, Ira. Some of it I think I understand. Your mother is very eloquent, do you know? She’s really comforting. I mean it.” (Crossing Cultures: Creating Identity in Chinese and Jewish American Literature, 2003, pp. 90-91)

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