Date of publication: 2017-08-13 23:00
A series of vignettes introduces Duddy’s family and neighborhood. Although Duddy loves his family, he often feels inferior to his brother, Lennie, who is struggling through medical school. His father, Max, frequently ignores Duddy’s feelings in order to focus on Lennie, the successful sibling. Max’s brother, Benjy, feels the same. While he sends Lennie through medical school, he shows disdain for Duddy. The one member of the family who feels real affection for Duddy is his grandfather, Simcha. He is the one who persuades Duddy that a man must have land in order to be successful.
Before any of his books were published, or even written, Richler’s alienation from his family and community began when he decided that Judaism had other, more significant connotations for him and that he could no longer accept the ritualistic dogma of orthodoxy. He was still interested in Judaism but not as an orthodox follower. From Ibiza, he wrote to his father that for a book he was planning to write, he had ordered translations of many books on Judaism. He was hoping to soften the blow of his decision to become a secular Jew. His father was not happy and called him selfish and insincere. Richler’s reply to his father also answers many of our questions about him and his character. He wrote:
In conclusion, I will argue that, based on the results of the aforementioned explorations, the suggestion that Mordecai Richler, one of Canada’s greatest and most insightful writers, is an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew, is, at the very least, misplaced. To support this argument, I will try to discover the source of such allegations and attempt to deconstruct them, as well as searching for the causes of public dismay and anger.
He has stolen from Virgil and deeply hurts his feelings and those of Yvette. Contrary to what someone (I think Anna) said, I think nothing can justify what he did. Too many people -good and bad- fall victims of Duddy 8767 s absolute lack of ethics. And his background serves us to understand, but never justify- his actions.
Oh, I had totally forgotten about that. He sold the library and the antique furniture. And he blamed Uncle Benjy for that. Benjy didn 8767 t leave him any money, so he deserves his furniture to be sold. He had it coming to him. I thought Benjy 8767 s leaving Duddy the house was going to be a turning point in Duddy 8767 s life. Because, in fact, that was the most precious thing that Benjy could leave. It was his home built for his own children. But, no, Duddy needs cash. He can 8767 t morgage the house so, off goes the rare books, rare furniture Sold for only a fraction of their worth.
Duddy Kravitz has grown up hearing about the Boy Wonder. The Wonder, real name Dingleman, started out in life picking up bus transfers from the street and selling them for three cents. When he had a quarter, he got into a gin game and ran it up to ten dollars. With that as a nest egg, the Wonder parlayed a string of poker games and fly-by-night investments into a fortune, and returned home (according to legend) in a chauffeured limousine and with his own string of racehorses. And all from a handful of lousy three-cent bus transfers!
What I’m trying to say is your Jewishness, unlike mine, is distorted, mean-minded, self-pitying, and licensed not by Hillel or Rabbi Akiba, but by urban ignorance. Bigotry born of know-nothingness.
Montreal Jewish community and Richler’s very large extended family did not get the “good publicity” and they lost “the chance of acquiring a better image.” Had Richler written about their wonderful hospitality, kind souls, wisdom, parenting skills, all those magnificent qualities, then they were going to embrace their writer, and they were going to be very proud of him. Richler could have replaced the ‘Boy Wonder’ in their esteem. But Richler was not interested in making up a ‘new’ Jewish community, he wanted to write about the one he knew.
Another reviewer on , Bassim Zantout, explores a parallel meaning to the immoral, illegal and reprehensible acts Duddy engaged in to be able to gather the money necessary to buy the land he thought his grandfather meant with his proverbial “a man without land is nobody.” Zantout’s review, titled Does the End Justify Means? offers this alternate interpretation:
I read Duddy Kravitz in three consecutive days. After the second day, I was almost ready to give full marks even though I was kind of annoyed with a couple of small nuisances.
 The quotation is from Michael Posner’s excerpts from a question-and-answer session with Mordecai Richler, in 6969 at the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montreal.
The movie is based on a Mordecai Richler novel and was the most popular film to have come out of Canada through the early seventies (that country which, in cinema as in other things, remains more foreign for many Americans than any place in Europe). It was filmed on location with a great sense of life and energy and with details seen as Duddy sees them. It's populated with an incredible gallery of character roles (I've only suggested a few of them). It's a little too sloppy, and occasionally too obvious, to qualify as a great film, but it's a good and entertaining one, and it leaves us thinking that Duddy Kravitz might amount to something after all, should he ever grow up.
Since Jews do not cause anti-Semitism, we fought those who peddled theories of the world Jewish conspiracy, Holocaust denial, blood libels. Except at the very margins, we didn 8767 t fight Jews.
Near the end of the book, just for a minute, when his grandfather turns away from him at the site of his dreams, it still seems possible that Duddy may come to his senses. But then a waiter recognizes him as 8766 the Mr Kravitz who just bought all that land 8767 and by the way Duddy smiles and triumphantly hugs his father we know that a change of heart for the better is now permanently out of the question.
You feel your survival is contingent on the continuing anti-Semitic pressures of the larger community outside, and where they do not exist, you invent them.