by Mordecai Richler
In the novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Mordecai Richler punishes
Duddy for his wrongs against others in several ways. Each punishment fits the crime, and there is an irony about each one. The three punishments inflicted on
Duddy at the end of the novel are the loss of Simcha's love, the loss of his friends, and the absence of any funds to build on his property.
The loss of Simcha's love is a devastating blow for Duddy. This is evident when Duddy confronts Yvette and asks her, " Why did you go to my grandfather? Of all the people in the world, he's the only one" (Richler, 1959, 313). Duddy did everything he could to get this land because his grandfather said that 'A man without land is nobody'. Duddy, in his own mind, did it all for Simcha, to earn his love and respect and in the end, he had neither. The loss of Simcha's love did not happen for nothing. It happened because of the way in which Duddy had gone about acquiring his land. Yvette told Simcha, and Simcha did not approve.
He was, in fact, extremely disappointed with Duddy. His disappointment is shown when he tells Duddy,
I can see what you have planned for me, Duddel. You'll be good to me.
You'd give me everything I wanted. and that would settle your conscience when you went out to swindle others. (Richler 1959, 312)
The betrayal of Yvette, her speaking to Simcha, and the loss of hers and
Virgil's friendships also punishes Duddy. They are the only two people in the world who ever loved him for himself, and didn't want anything but his love in return. In the loss of their friendships, Duddy is being punished for his rotten treatment of other people, even his only friends. Duddy may not even know what he has lost, but he will one day, when he misses having someone to share his accomplishments and failures with, like he has had up until now.
The loss of things human is not the only punishment