Chapter 8 Summary

In the middle of March, Jacob Kahn calls Asher to see if he has been studying Guernica. Asher tells him the depth of his studies, and Jacob is suitably impressed and asks him to come to his studio the following Sunday afternoon and to plan to stay through dinner. He also tells Asher to read about the Massacre of the Innocents in the Christian gospel of Matthew, as well as study a painting depicting the story. Asher goes to the library after school and reads from the Christian Bible, which makes him feel very uncomfortable. He sees no connection between this, the Massacre of the Innocents painting, and Guernica. He tells his mother what Jacob had him do. She tells him to ask him about his reasoning when he goes to Jacob’s home on Sunday. She gives Asher a book about art that the art professor at her college told her to have Asher read. She said that she told him about Asher’s studies with Jacob Kahn. The professor is impressed, stating that Jacob Kahn is one of the greatest artists alive today, having worked with Picasso before the First World War.

Asher reads the book and is drawn into its message. He reads all night. In the morning, he tells his mother that he is not sure that he wants to free himself as the book states. Mrs. Lev wants to go with Asher to his first meeting with Jacob Kahn, but Asher insists on going by himself. He goes to the old loft building where Jacob lives. He is told to sign in before he is shown up to Jacob’s apartment. He is greeted by a woman by the name of Anna Schaeffer, who is a friend of Jacob’s. She is shocked to see that he is a Hasidic Jew, complete with side curls. She looks at the drawings that he brought with him and declares them to be magnificent. Jacob warns him what he is up against. Anna asks what his parents think of his drawings, since Hasidic Jews usually frown on things like that. Asher does not reply, which is in itself a reply. Anna leaves, wishing Asher luck, stating that he has everything else. When Jacob invites him back the next week, Asher says that his father will be home for Passover and he does not want to upset him. Asher returns home to find a note from his mother, saying that she went to an emergency meeting with the Rebbe. When she returns, she says that Asher’s father will not be home for Passover. No one knows where he is. Asher fears that he is in Russia, subjected to torture. No word is heard from Mr. Lev, and Asher returns to Jacob Kahn.