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Mind/Body, Jewish/Russian: Identity Fragmentation in Isaac Babel's "Story of My Dovecote"

Author(s): Melissa Yael Jacobowitz

Journal: Vestnik : The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies
ISSN 1930-286X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 40;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Babel | Dovecoat | Jewish

In this paper, I will examine the child-protagonist's identity fragmentation through the original Russian text. I argue that this fragmentation is embodied in three ways. First, through conflicting images and interpretations of Jewish and Russian bodies and intellects, the boy's identity is broken up into mind/body and Jewish/Russian oppositions. These dichotomies gain practical meaning as he learns that the Jewish body, as seen by Russians, renders Jews powerless in Russian society. Second, this fragmentation is exhibited by associations between the narrator and other characters, achieved by the repetition of words and phrases to describe seemingly opposite individuals. These associations effectively splinter the boy's identity into multiple characters. Third, the boy's identity fragmentation is manifested by the text's two narrators, a primary adult-narrator and a child-narrator. The relationship between these two narrators adds another layer of fragmentation to the text, as the primary narrator both separates himself from and identifies with the child-narrator.
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