Self-sacrificing and/or Overbearing: the Jewish Mother in the Cultural Imagination Cover Image
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Self-sacrificing and/or Overbearing: the Jewish Mother in the Cultural Imagination
Self-sacrificing and/or Overbearing: the Jewish Mother in the Cultural Imagination

Author(s): Brygida Gasztold
Subject(s): Jewish studies
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
Keywords: American Jewish culture and literature; the Jewish Mother stereotype

Summary/Abstract: Given the historical proximity of Polish and Jewish groups, it is possible to identify their mutual interconnectedness. This paper presents one such example of the stereotypical Jewish Mother, in Israel known as a “Polish woman,” both in its sociohistorical and cultural aspect. Drawing from the theory of gendered and stereotypical representations, author traces a changing portrayal of the Jewish Mother on her way from the ghetto penury to middle-class affluence. Embodied by popular characters such as Molly Goldberg, the Jewish mother also became a target of bitter criticism, best rendered in the depiction of Sophie Portnoy—the iconic protagonist of Philip Roth’s novel Portnoy’s Complaint (1967). Feminist re-readings of this popular stereotype offer an interesting insight into its construction and try to explain its viability.

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 11
  • Page Range: 161–174
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: English