Americanization in the Jazz Singer

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In the film, The Jazz Singer, the protagonist, Jakie Rabinowitz, goes through a major character change in becoming Americanized. That is, in leaving his family's Jewish faith, he adopts the attitude and culture of the American way of life. However, there are many phases and steps he takes in doing this along the way. The first signs are the feud between Jakie and his father and goes as far as his name changing and meeting with a Gentile. Because of these changes he chooses to make, his Jewish way of life becomes Anglocized and eventually this Americanization overtakes his character causing him great issues with his true identity. He is forced to come to terms with who he is, and who he wishes to be.

Jakie's family has a very strong Jewish faith and throughout the formative years of his life this was all he knew. His father deeply wanted him to continue with the tradition in the family and become a Cantor and their synagogue. However, Jakie wishes otherwise and chooses to try his hand in show business. This is his first step in his Americanization as his father has strict rules and ideas for him which he blatantly disregards. Once he begins to sing Jazz music, Moisha Yudelson hears his talent and goes to tell Jakie's father who, naturally, is furious at the thought and whips Jakie, who then proceeds to run away from home. At this point we see that Jakie is struggling heavily with his identity. As much as he wants to be independent of his fathers wishes and culture, it is clear that he still deeply cares for his mother as he waits until his parents are at the synagogue to sneak back into the house to take her photograph. This demonstrates the point at which he feels torn between his desires and his family ties as his character is slowly becoming emersed in American culture and ideals. For a person in a family of such strong faith, it takes a major influence to so unabashedly rage against what has been so naturally engrained in one's head and moral values.

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