The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by Michael Chabon

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Why is the orange called "monstrous and illicit" in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?

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In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Joe Kavalier, a nineteen-year-old refugee from Prague, has just arrived in New York City. Everything there is strange, and he naturally compares what he sees with the familiar sights of home.

Sheldon Anapol, the owner of Empire Comics, has given Joe an orange. When he pulls it out of his pocket while riding the subway, he has just been thinking of all the restrictions placed on Jews in Prague, including the types of food that they are no longer allowed to eat. He thinks that the orange "would have seemed a prodigy in Prague, monstrous and illicit." This is because the orange is so large, is perfectly spherical, and is "oranger than anything Joe had ever seen."

Even the fruit is different in America. The perfection of the orange contrasts both with Joe's immediate surroundings (he tries to block out the sour smell of the subway by pressing the orange against his nose) and with the city he has left.

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