Chapter 11 Summary
When Asher enters high school, he is ordered to take French, though he does not see the point. He continues to study with Jacob Kahn, spending his summers with him in Provincetown. On one Jewish holiday, he and Jacob dance with the Torah. Jacob later turns this into one of his sculptures. Jacob has a showing of his work, arranged by Anna Schaeffer. A sculpture of Asher’s head is sold to a famous individual. Asher finds it strange that his likeness is sitting in someone’s home. Jacob wishes he could have stayed home, but he came only for Anna’s sake. Anna is well aware of Jacob’s feelings.
Asher’s uncle redesigns his attic into a studio for Asher. In gratitude, Asher paints a portrait of his uncle and his family. Mr. and Mrs. Lev return from Vienna. Mr. Lev is furious at the studio that his brother built for Asher. He will barely speak to Asher. Mrs. Lev tries to get him to come to Vienna for the summer, but Asher refuses, fearing that his father will stop him from painting. When Mr. and Mrs. Lev return for the next season of holidays, Asher’s uncle and aunt support Mrs. Lev in wanting Asher to come to Vienna. Feeling overwhelmed, Asher agrees. Jacob Kahn is busy campaigning for John F. Kennedy anyway. On the plane, Asher becomes ill. He stays in Vienna for a few days and returns to Brooklyn.
The school registrar asks Asher if he plans to go to college. Asher says he will go, and the registrar tells him to take Russian. Asher refuses, but he ends up taking it under the Rebbe’s command. The Rebbe gives him his blessing in his pursuit of art, but warns him that the world will not be kind to him.
Asher travels with Jacob Kahn and his wife to various art exhibits around the country. He goes to college and studies Russian. Anna Schaefer announces that Asher Lev will have his own exhibition in New York, the youngest artist to do so. Asher is elated, and Jacob says that he wishes he could carve the expression on his face. The exhibition is a moderate success, and the critics are kind because of his youth. Jacob goes into a fit of depression when President Kennedy is assassinated. Asher has a second exhibition, which does even better than the first. Asher’s parents return home for good. They move back into their old apartment, and Asher goes home to live with them. He keeps his studio at his uncle’s, however.