Fran Arrick Dick Abrahamson - Essay

Dick Abrahamson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In Chernowitz!] Fran Arrick has written a powerful novel about prejudice…. Arrick does a fine job of describing the tiny snowball of prejudice picking up momentum and size and careening down the mountain. Bob's friends ostracize him partially out of fear that they might be Emmett's next victim.

Eventually Bob cannot stand the tormenting. He retaliates by concocting an elaborate scheme that frames the bully and gets him suspended. But such a victory is too shallow and Bob confesses to the frame-up and lets his parents and the principal know about his two years of harassment.

Upset at what's happened in her school, the principal calls an assembly. Movies of the holocaust are shown. Students are stunned by the horror, appalled at what human beings are capable of doing to one another. Bob is sickened by the films and leaves the auditorium for a drink of water. When he turns around, there stands Emmett. "Did you and your daddy set that all up for me?" he asks….

Instead of taking the easy way out and having Emmett repent, Arrick creates a far more powerful and realistic ending by leaving him unchanged. Bob realizes that there will always be Emmetts in the world, and that's worth discussing. (p. 80)

Dick Abrahamson, "New Novels That Go from Delight to Wisdom," in English Journal, Vol. 71, No. 4, April, 1982, pp. 80-3.∗