Babel's Internal Conflicts

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  • Topic: Jews, Cossacks, Judaism
  • Pages : 4 (1337 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 2012
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Henry Chen
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Babel’s Internal Conflicts
Babel’s collection of short stories Red Cavalry was one of the first books that exposed the Russian people to the harsh realities of the Polish-Soviet war. At first the stories seem to be historical fiction meant to entertain; however, upon closer reading these stories become pieces that convey strong moral, religious, political and emotional sentiment. Each short story represents a certain theme, but it is My First Goose that encompasses very well Babel’s feelings towards his own identity. The story illuminates the dynamic relationship between the insider and the outsider through careful use of imagery, tone, and imagery. More specifically, My First Goose addresses Babel’s conflicted sense of identity and self as a Jewish man. In My First Goose, as well as in many of Babel’s other works, the narrator is an ambiguous character that resembles the author (in what way? How do you we know this?). Although very little information is given about the narrator, by the end of the story readers understand the narrator’s conflict with his identity (this sentence doesn’t really fit here; it is a bit off topic from the rest of the paragraph). The narrator is introduced as an outsider, one who is neither racially (is he a different race?) nor physically equal to the men of the 6th Division. Savitsky, the first “insider” that is introduced (phrasing is stylistically awkward), is depicted as a extremely masculine figure whose “long legs looked like two girls were wedged to their shoulders in riding boots” and whose built body “split the hut like a banner splitting the sky”. The erotic (perhaps “erotically despicted/described/portrayed”) , masculine Cossack stands in stark contrast to the envious, feeble, timid, glasses wearing “powder puff”. Babel chooses to depict the ethnic other as virile and powerful while painting the narrator, a man whom he closely resembles, as a weak, almost effeminate, creature. The choice...
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