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Reach for the stars, is a common phrase many children hear in their life


Reach for the stars, is a common phrase many children hear in their 

life, whether by parents or role models in their lives. If a person puts their mind to a task at hand they can accomplish it most of the time, but when the goal is achieved and the path is taken to achieve the goal is crowded with hate and lies, the question arises; was it all worth it? In Mordecai Richler^s novel, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Duddy Kravitz, his uncle Benjy and Jerry Dingleman (The Boy Wonder), are all able to achieve their life long dreams, but we must examine if their sacrifices were worthy of the prize. Benjy strived his entire life to create a profitable business, raise a family, and make his father, Simcha, proud to be his father. Now, Benjy was able to make his business grow and become beneficial to all that were close to him. He was able to provide his nephew, Lennie, with a University education to help him on his way to becoming a doctor, and also gave Duddy a job working at his factory. These sound like descent things to do for your own family, however when Duddy worked for Benjy he never treated him with respect. This treatment towards Duddy did not help Benjy^s reputation with Duddy, who already thought Benjy favoured Lennie. As well, sending Lennie to University was a very thoughtful and expensive thing to do for him, but according to Duddy, ^Lennie never wanted to be a doctor^ You forced him!^(241). Shannon2 This idea of Lennie never wanting to be a doctor was evident when he ran away from school. Lennie could not take the pressure put on him by Benjy, but he wanted to make Benjy proud and by doing so almost got kicked out of school and ruined his life. The reason that Benjy was doing all this for his nephews was because he could not have any children, with his wife due to complications. Benjy started out doing something nice but ended up trying to live his life through his brothers. In the end Benjy attains cancer and is sinking towards death with no one to inherit his life long achievement, his factory. No one will take over his business in the family because Lennie is too busy, Max-his brother- is too uninformed about it and Duddy has a certain disliking for him. Duddy had lost his respect for Benjy due to the fact that Benjy always ridiculed him. Benjy made his father Simcha believe he had failed as a father because Benjy is nothing with all his money. After all of Benjys hard work and determination he cannot even pass the business on in the family because of his treatment of others on the way to and at the top. Duddy wanted to own land after hearing his grandpa say, ^A man without land is nobody^(48). To achieve this goal he led a crooked life; even as a child he conned companies. By doing odd jobs like this he does gain experience for life but he has no where to go with this kind of experience except down. Then when he was able to find the land he desired he did everything possible to retrieve the land. He tried to be like Jerry Dinglemen at first, but he himself led a crime filled life; taking advantage of innocent people, and dealing drugs. His life was never very legal and he was always looking behind his back, and this was Duddy^s role mode. Shannon3 Also, Duddy had lost the respect and trust of his close friends and family in his journey to achieve his land. He lost the approval of his friends when he became too self-indulged and forgot all about Yvette and Virgil. He then lost all trust in everyone when he purchased the last bit of land, by stealing the money from Virgil, and then refusing the help of anyone else. The worst part about his losses was that he was warned on many different occasions, for example, ^You^re too sure of yourself^(120) and ^I knew you^d get your fingers burnt one day^(251). Even Benjy realized that he, himself, had gone wrong but Duddy did not heed his warnings, ^I was wrong because there was more, much more^(228). He was warned on countless occasions to take it slow but it did not work. All the effort Duddy put towards his life was to make his grandfather proud, but he ended up hurting him and losing his respect. These dreams of the characters were completed but were the consequences worth the struggle? There is no suggestion that one should not follow their dreams and pursue goals of life, but it makes the reader think. Benjy realized his struggle was not worth the end result but it was too late. Jerry Dinglemen, unfortunately may never learn that his life of felony is not worth the hassles. The life of a criminal can end in an instant and you could be left with nothing, left to die a lonely man. Duddy still may have the chance to reconcile with his family if he tries really hard because he still has much time left in his life. He has to realize that material things are not everything and family and friends are much more important.


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