Evident in the superhero they create, escape is an important theme in Joe and Sammy's lives, and thus for the novel. Escape has the power to save and enchant but is simultaneously a leaving and an arriving, the former a thing of sadness, the latter, one of joy. It seems though, that for the better part of the novel, Joe understands only the former. He is trained in the art of the escape, an ability that he will use throughout his life, starting when as a young man he performs a real-life, death defying escape, by getting smuggled out of Prague before the Nazis have a chance to send him to a concentration camp. Joe's escape happens because of his magic—the slights of hand and feats of wonder that he is able to call forth at will—and faith, for it is in the casket of a religious figure, the Golem, that Joe makes his passage. His escape, like his magic, his artwork and the religion that created the story of the Golem, is a thing of beauty with an aesthetic value that goes beyond the physical and emotional benefits.
The idea of escape in this novel involves physical escape from dangerous situations, as Joe finds out, but it also includes the more intangible kinds of escape, like the kind Joe attempts when he flees into the army when his younger brother Thomas is killed. This "escape" seems to be a misguided one, for he leaves behind Sammy and Rosa—who has not had the chance to tell him that he is about to be a father—to try and find a way to escape...
(The entire section is 993 words.)
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Chabon’s overarching theme in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is escapism: escape from tyranny, escape from reality, escape from death. Joe Kavalier, trained as an escape artist by a master Ausbrecher has an ability to escape and survive that pushes the limits of reality, even a fictional reality. In the day-to-day grind, Joe escapes the painful reality of the growing war in Europe by battling Nazis on paper. His more dramatic escapes include the River Moldau, Nazis in Prague, the fountain of the Hotel Trevi, a happy life with Rosa, carbon monoxide poisoning, Antarctica and madness, Sammy and the rest of his family, and finally—the most difficult of all—his self-imposed exile. Joe is the novel’s real-life escapist.
Sammy Clay, although much more grounded and practical than his cousin Joe, finds escape from his life in daydreams: traveling with his father; providing for his mother and grandmother; being a famous and respected publisher. Sammy’s master feat of escape is from his own homophobia. After a few happy, clandestine months with his first and only love, Tracey Bacon, Sammy turns his back on romantic love and spends the next thirteen years in proverbial chains. These chains of shame burden Sammy. When Senator Hendrickson effectively springs the last lock and exposes Sammy’s homosexuality in public forum, he is not humiliated but relieved. Bacon is gone from this world, but Sammy...
(The entire section is 1099 words.)