There are a number of motifs that can be discussed in Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer.
One motif that stands out from the beginning of the novel is darkness and another is fear.
The motif of darkness is found across the novel. Much of the action takes place in the dark, at night, or in the darkness of caves. The jail cell is dark and dank and is directly relatable to the caves which are featured in the first sections of the book. For this reason, “dank spaces” can be considered a motif as well.
Fear is another motif in The Fixer, though it borders on being a thematic idea. Yakov is frightened constantly in this novel and part of his challenge is to find a way around this state of fear, whether that be through learning or spiritual conviction.