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The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz--The Tragic Fall of


A man must pursue his dreams. This is certainly true for
everyone of the humankind, for if there were no dreams,
there would be no reason to live. Duddy Kravitz understands
this perfectly, that is why he is one of the most ambitious
young men of his time. From the moment he hears his
grandfather says, "A man without land is nobody," he is
prepared to seek the land of his dream -- no matter what
the cost would be. This ambition of his is very
respectable, but unfortunately his methods are damnable.
Duddy is a relentless pursuer; a formidable competitor and
also a ruthless manipulator. It is true that he has
obtained all the land that he desires at the end, but he
succeeds through immoral, despicable and contemptible
means. It is clear then, that Duddy has failed in his
apprenticeship and has become the "scheming little bastard"
that Uncle Benjy has warned him against.
There is no doubt that Duddy is very shrewd and clever, but
his lack of moral principles attributes to his final
failure. In fact, his immorality can be traced back to a
very young age. During his study in the parochial school,
he already earns money through methods that hardly comply
to virtues of any kind. Taking advantage of the fact that
minors cannot be sued in Canada, Duddy defrauds stamp
companies and sells stolen hockey sticks. Perhaps he cannot
distinguish right from wrong; perhaps he does not care, but
nonetheless it is not proper for him to engage himself into
these kinds of activities.
Duddy emerges himself deeper into the sea of corruption
when he establishes Dudley Kane Enterprises. With his
limited knowledge of movie making and his mistaken trust in
John Friar, his firm produces bar-mitzvah films of
extremely poor quality. The bar-mitzvah film for Mr. Cohen,
for example, is obviously a failing product. "Duddy didn't
say a word all through the screening but afterwards he was
sick to his stomach." After the screening, Duddy says to
Mr. Friar, "I could sell Mr. Cohen a dead horse easier than
this pile of --." However, realizing the obvious faultiness
of the film, Duddy does not talk candidly to his client.
Instead, he untruthfully says that the film is a phenomenal
piece of art and that he is entering it into the Cannes
Festival. By doing so, he deceives the Cohen family into
buying the defective bar-mitzvah film of Bernie.
As a matter of fact, Kravitz is not only skillful in
handling situations, but he is also very apt in
manipulating people. This can be clearly seen in his
relationships with Virgil and Yvette.
Duddy is never loved in his family, so originally Duddy is
quite content to know that there is someone who cares about
him -- Yvette. He finds great comradeship in her and has
also enjoyed great sex with her. But as time passes by,
Yvette becomes only a tool to him. He uses her as a medium
through which he can buy the land that he lusts for;
because he is a minor and he cannot legally own land. "The
farmers would be wary of a young Jew, they might jack up
prices or even refuse to sell, but another French-Canadian
would not be suspect." Duddy also treats her as a sexual
toy. He makes love with Yvette whenever he wants it, but he
does not take Yvette's feelings into consideration: "Yvette
wanted to wait, but Duddy insisted, and they made love on
the carpet." He never pays any respect to Yvette and he
does "...not know how to treat a woman."
With Virgil, Duddy takes advantage of his physical
disabilities. After selling the pinball machines that
Virgil brought him to ease his financial troubles, Duddy
does not want to repay Virgil. Using the fact that Virgil
is an epileptic and that it is very difficult for him to be
hired, Duddy employs him as a driver. But Duddy tells him
that a truck would be necessary for the task, and that he
can provide Virgil with the perfect vehicle for one
thousand dollars -- the exact amount that he owes Virgil.
Virgil is innocent enough not to know what is happening. He
is also very grateful and flattered to know that Mr.
Kravitz is willing to hire him. He accepts the job
immediately, and thus, Duddy does not need to reimburse
Virgil. It is quite ironic that Duddy, being such a good
manipulator of people, is later being used by his Bohemian
friends when they come to his apartment every night to
party, eat and drink -- all to Duddy's expense.
After Duddy has engaged himself into all kinds of deceitful
activities, he bankrupts and is on the verge of a mental
breakdown. At that point, Uncle Benjy's letter reveals to
Duddy that he must make a very serious decision: There's
more to you than mere money-lust, Duddy, but I'm afraid for
you. You're two people, that's why. The scheming little
bastard I saw so easily and the fine, intelligent boy
underneath that your grand father, bless him, saw. But
you're coming of age soon and you'll have to choose. A boy
can be two, three, four potential people, but a man is only
one. He murders the others.
Duddy must now choose to the way that he will live on for
the rest of his life. He may continue on to live the way
that he has always lived and be a complete amoral criminal,
or he can abandon his money-lusting and become a fine
shrewd gentleman. The time has come for him to choose what
is to become of himself. But at this point, Duddy performs
the most dirty, sickening and contemptible act in his
apprenticeship. He forges Virgil's cheque in order to buy
the final parcel of land: "Duddy took a quick look at
Virgil's bank balance, whistled, noted his account number
and ripped out two cheques. He forged the signature by
holding the cheque and a letter Virgil had signed up to the
window and tracing slowly." This is a clear indication that
Duddy has chosen to become the inconsiderate "scheming
little bastard". He has murdered all the other good
possibilities of himself.
Duddy has obviously chosen the wrong kind of man to be. He
has chosen to become a crooked person, a corrupted chap,
and a ruthless man. Undoubtedly, Duddy is a very keen and
intuitive young man. He can calmly and gracefully settle
Lennie's problems with Mr. Calder. He can also tactfully
and intelligently get Aunt Ida going back to Montreal to
see the dying Uncle Benjy. Duddy has all the qualities that
is needed for him to succeed in society -- it is only a
matter of time. Unfortunately, Duddy chooses the wrong path
at a young age and continues on with that path to his
adulthood. He ends up to be a terrible failure. Perhaps his
lack of discipline from his early years is one of the most
important attributes to his tragic fall in The
Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. 


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