Philip Roth

Defender Of The Faith

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  • Features an extended summary and 6 sections of expert analysis
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Defender Of The Faith Story Analysis

This short story, written in the first person, reveals the internal processes of protagonist Sergeant Nathan Marx as he recovers from his experiences as a combatant during World War II. Set in a military base in southwest Missouri, the narrative follows Marx’s experience as he tries to discern which parts of his original self-remain and which parts of his original self are forever lost, left behind in the European combat zones of World War II. When Marx engages with young trainee Sheldon Grossbart and his friends, Larry Fishbein and Mickey Halpern, Marx finds himself unexpectedly accessing a part of his identity that links his hardened combatant self with valuable and tender memories of his past and of his family. To make matters even more poignant, these emotional connections all take place against the backdrop of one of the most horrifying events of the 20th century: the Jewish Holocaust during World War II.

Marx himself is Jewish, but his relationship with Judaism is unexplained in the short story. He knows the customs and the dates of important Jewish holy days, and he understands the culture of Jewish families, but he discusses little more about his own Jewish identity. Marx does not…

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