Chapter 14 Summary
Asher returns home to find his parents’ apartment empty. He calls a family friend and learns that they are at the University of Chicago, dealing with student unrest there. He looks at his old room through a flood of memories. After a restless night, he goes to the synagogue, where he is warmly welcomed home. He sees Rav Yosef Cutler, the mashpia of the school where he studied.
At home, Asher receives a long-distance call from his parents in Chicago. They are upset that they are not there to welcome him home. Afterward, he walks the streets of Brooklyn and visits some of his old spots. He meets Reb Krinsky, who has a daughter now and another baby on the way. Asher’s uncle is very fat now and asks if there will be any paintings of naked women. Asher assures him there will not be, so Uncle Yitzchok says he will come.
Asher’s nervousness about the paintings of the crucifixion grows. He calls Anna Schaeffer and expresses his uneasiness. She tells him that they have already been bought by a museum in New York. Asher is overwhelmed that his reputation has grown this much. He learns that Jacob Kahn has had major surgery on his stomach and is very unwell. He visits him in his home, seeing how frail and sickly he is. Mrs. Kahn says that the doctors are optimistic.
Mr. and Mrs. Lev return home, excited about Asher’s exhibition. Asher does not warn them about the crucifixions. He goes to the gallery, where he finds a large crowd. He talks to many of the people. When he sees his parents arrive, he guides them to the opposite side of the gallery from the crucifixions. Soon the crowd spots Mr. and Mrs. Lev, recognizing them from the painting. People begin to whisper among themselves. Mr. Lev spots his wife’s face in the painting. He goes to examine it, and Asher follows with his mother. His parents say nothing as they look at themselves in such a non-Jewish setting. They leave without saying anything to Asher, who follows them. He tries to explain, but they get in a cab and go home. Asher does not see them for a few days, since they try to be out of the apartment whenever Asher is there.
The exhibition is a success, with very good reviews. Asher’s parents still refuse to talk about the paintings. When the exhibition finally gets a negative review, Mr. Lev has his wife ask Asher if he is all right. The Rebbe tells Asher that he is out of the yeshiva and that he must leave. Asher decides to go back to Europe, perhaps even to Russia. His mother weeps when he leaves. His father just shakes his hand. As he drives off in a cab, Asher looks back to see his parents watching him through the window.