I Married a Communist

by Philip Roth

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 224

I Married a Communist is a novel by critically acclaimed writer Philip Roth. There are various themes in the story, such as the dangers of witch hunts, exemplified by the McCarthyism period in which communists and suspected communists were "hunted" by Senator Joseph McCarthy and his committee.

Another theme is anti-Semitism. The character Eve, who herself is of Jewish descent, expresses anti-Semitic viewpoints, even though she once married a Jew named Jumbo Freedman. The oppression of communists and those suspected of being communists, whether rightfully or not, is similar to how Jews were targeted during the twentieth century in the United States and Europe.

However, the overall and most recurring theme of the novel is betrayal. Eve betrays her own cultural and religious roots. Ira betrays his communist ideals to marry Eve, a Hollywood star who represents the capitalistic system. Eve, who marries Ira during the McCarthy period, betrays Ira by exposing him as a communist in a memoir. Jumbo Freedman, Eve's ex-husband, betrays her by promising her wealth but never goes through with it. Even Murray, Ira's brother, feels he had betrayed his wife by staying in crime-ridden Newark and possibly leading to her death. Nathan, an enthusiastic former student of Murray and admirer of Ira, betrays himself by letting negative events in his life and in society affect his views on life.

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