Chapter 6 Summary
Asher misses his father, especially on the Sabbath. He thinks about telling his mother that he wants them to go to Vienna after all, but he cannot bring himself to do this. Mrs. Lev sets up a table and bookcase in the living room to be used as her study. She has graduated from college and is now working on her master’s degree in Russian studies. She brings home a box of oil paints, painting supplies, canvases, and an easel for Asher. He takes to oils as if he has been painting with them all his life.
Mrs. Lev talks to Asher about his studies at school. His teachers say that he is not even trying. He continues to draw during class and is subject to the sarcasm of his instructors. His Uncle Yitzchok talks to him about his studies in the Torah. Reb Krinsky shames him, pointing out that his father is traveling all over Europe to set up yeshivas so that Jews can study the Torah while his own son in America refuses to learn it. Adults stop talking to Asher because he is hurting his father, who has done so much for the Jews.
Asher goes with his mother to the museum. He sees pictures of nudes, which his mother says are against the Torah, that Jews should show modesty. She is especially upset when Asher is interested in pictures of Jesus. She tries to explain how much harm Jews have suffered because of Christianity, but Asher does not listen. He goes to the museum every day after school, copying the pictures that he sees. Mrs. Lev feels guilty that she encouraged Asher in his art, admitting that she bought the paints so that he would no longer steal from Reb Krinsky.
After many months, Mr. Lev comes home from Vienna. He is furious at what Asher has been painting, blaming his mother for allowing him to go. He forbids Asher to go to the museum any more, but he goes anyway. Mr. Lev threatens to take Asher back with him to Vienna. Mrs. Lev and Asher spend the summer in the Berkshires after Mr. Lev goes back to Vienna.
Several new Jewish families move into the apartments on Asher’s street. He sees one boy and introduces himself as the son of Aryeh Lev. The boy does not believe him, thinking that he is a Jew who is really a Soviet spy, as he encountered in Russia. Asher does not speak to him again.