Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 215
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler is the story of a Jewish boy and his desperate struggle for success. Duddy’s idea of success is one he based on advice he got from his grandfather that stressed the importance of land ownership. The story tells of Duddy’s struggle to buy land and his efforts to achieve success in any business that seemed profitable and using any means that supported his goals.
In chronicling Duddy’s struggles, Richlar satirizes the Jewish experience, particularly the drive of the Jewish immigrant to achieve success in a capitalist world. Duddy’s money-making schemes appear to be random, yet connected in some way to his Jewish identity. He spends a significant amount of time developing a business that photographs bar mitzvahs, for example. This satirizes the culture class and pits Old World against New World values. Duddy and his family embrace conflicting ideals; Duddy rebels against this socialist uncle and embraces the tenets of capitalism. Duddy’s brother Lenny goes so far as to claim to be anti-semitic. Richler’s novel supports unfavorable stereotypes by telling the story of Duddy Kravitz. Duddy is a driven Jewish immigrant who pursues wealth and status at all costs, willing and eager to exploit others in his selfish drive for success.