A story that defines a book
The thoughts of a child may be considered as being immature, but it can be argued that such ideas represent life at its most accurate level. In this light, the book There Are Jews in My House depicts of the lives of various Russians who reside in Brooklyn and Moscow. It consists of six stories most of them poignant, funny and sad. All but two of the stories are told from a child’s perspective. This brings forth innocence and a sense of immaturity in the themes upheld in the story. In the eyes of the reader, one is expected to disambiguate what message the child is trying to put across and decipher it to create an understanding. The perspective of a child may be considered naive or uninformed, but it can be considered as being the most vivid description of how life in a community is without any alteration.
There Are Jews in My House is one story set in different locations and places, referencing different periods. It is however timed in a way that expresses displacement. The characters featured in the narrative have deserted their homes as well as displacing their emotions and therefore do not comprehend the true meaning of their interactions with friends and family members. Individuals who have abandoned their homes have left in search of new places and landscapes to settle down and forget their past. The story has been given a quiet beginning and is centered on a recognizable space. For instance, some scenes are located in kitchens, public means of transport and others in waiting bays. Vapnyar writes out of the reality context, claiming that it is too comfortable. This places the story in the mazes created by the human mind thereby creating a powerful body that accords an elevated for of emotional impact to the reader (Munson, 2004).
The title of the story There Are Jews in My House was derived from a Nazi-occupied town. This was in reference to a story where a young woman offers shelter to a Jewish friend and her young daughter. The Jewish emigrant is very fond of complaining about everything without the courtesy of understanding that she is being offered residence in another person’s homestead. This shows her ungratefulness. This reflects the ungratefulness that people had in the period. Old women who had their husbands die in the period did not show any gratefulness at all. Symbolically their ungratefulness is shown by how they clean their dead husband’s framed photos, they spit on the glass and wipe it with a cloth. In her mind, the host has flashbacks, mental justifications and irrational fears attached to the Russian executions. Through her experiences, she instills in the reader a vision of how easy it is to commit acts of ethical liability and how the world is full of hypocrisy (Vapnyar 25).
The narrative has no continuity and therefore the reader is coerced into tracing their reading back to the beginning to acquire informed inferences. This is enhanced by the imagery created within the settings, for instance the classroom or the waiting bay match the mood and the tone of the story. The story is however somehow less captivating due to the less suspense created such that the reader can almost predict what happens next. The writer however, pays attention to details through offering descriptive instances of even the minutest details in her stories. For instance, the description concerning the white froth appearing under the boiling soup creates a succinct image within the reader’s mind thus enhancing the comprehension capability.
Ignorance is shown in Vapnyar’s story concerning the sex education teacher who is obviously naive on sexual issues. The narrator states in her story that being the teacher, she enjoys repeating the word ‘sex’ so much that it made her light headed. Additionally, she reveals that felt like hopping on her left foot around the classroom shouting that she did not know anything concerning the topic repeatedly. This evidences ignorance for both the teacher and the writer, as the thoughts expressed in the book are highly biased within the writer’s viewpoints. It is however strange for the reader concerning why anyone would be overjoyed for failing to know everything concerning one’s practicing profession; Vapnyar’s point in this story is not yet clear in the minds of most readers (Vapnyar 50).
The story has a concluding epiphany offering great strength to the story. Moreover, the structure of the narrative gives a sudden and organic shift to the narrative that creates an effect that aligns the narrator and the reader on a parallel level. This is achieved through an evaluation of the simplicity imparted in the story for a diverse audience. The story is interesting since it creates humor in an age that was very dark. During the holocaust, the Jews were being murdered in a religious cleansing by the Russians and the Germans. Simultaneously, the age of the revolution was also evidenced within the same period with the blacks being persecuted and oppressed in America. This creates humor and irony in the story (Vapnyar 28).
Vapnyar is a strong writer, as she focuses on exposing the Russian and German cultures through her book and displaying that even the Russians and Germans who living in America have little behavior and personality differences from those within the mentioned countries. Her stories are simple and understandable attributable to the simple language by the fact that Vapnyar relocated to America as a native Russian lacking an understanding of the English dialect. She has therefore developed the use of the language through her residing period in America. The book is quite captivating and is a good read for individuals not interested in plot or suspense therefore acting more of an informative book (Munson, 2004).
The stories told from a child’s perspective are interesting and full of humor. They represent the innocence that can only be seen in a child. The children tell the stories truthfully and they can sometimes use funny descriptions when describing serious topics. There are light moments in the stories, and this is beneficial to the reader since some of the stories are dark and somber. The stories have different themes such as displacement, hypocrisy and ungratefulness. The lack of suspense means that the reader can predict what will happen in the end. The writer has made up for this lack of suspense by placing the context of the story in familiar places and by giving vivid descriptions of various elements.
Munson, Sam. “There Are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar”. Commentary Magazine, March 2004: Web. <http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/there-are-jews-in-my-house-by-lara-vapnyar>
Vapnyar, Lara. There are Jews in my House. There are Jews in my house, pp3-50. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008. Print.