The Conversion of the Jews

by Philip Roth
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“You shouldn’t hit me about God, Mamma. You should never hit anybody about God—." Explain this quote from "The Conversion of the Jews."

The quote at the end of "The Conversion of the Jews" shows that Ozzie is disgusted by hypocrisy and violence in religion.

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This quote, coming at the end of the story, and relating explicitly to events earlier on in the story, relates to one of the central themes of this tale, which is hypocrisy in religion. Earlier on, Ozzie has been hit by both his mother and his Rabbi for their perception of him as a wise-guy who is deliberately trying to make them look stupid by asking questions that reveal their inconsistencies. However, both of these characters are very wrong in their assessment of Ozzie. In fact, he is somebody who is desperately trying to understand various aspects of the Jewish faith. Ozzie is very confused when the Jews who he respects and admires on the one hand claim that they believe in an omnipotent God but on the other hand completely deny any chance of the immaculate conception of Jesus. Ozzie is therefore completely shocked and disillusioned when his mother and his rabbi hit him for pointing out this inconsistency.

The quote therefore, coming as it does at the end of this story, expresses the way that violence is so often used to try and cover up or hide the presence of hypocrisy in so many areas of life. For Ozzie, the fact that violence was used to cover up his sincere searching for the truth makes it even worse, and Ozzie uses his position of power to express his viewpoint.

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