The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler is the tale of a young greedy boy who feels that money is his path to happiness and pride. Duddy simply stomps all over his friends and his family as well (to a certain extent). Richler feels unreserved sympathy towards Duddy because, in essence, Duddy is Richler written down and diversified. Duddy is a character based on Mordecais own personality. Duddy Kravitz is a crook, a blackmailer and a cheat. However, Duddy Kravitz is Richler s crook and Duddy will never be abandoned. In The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, everyone but the Richler himself shuns Duddy.
The entire concept of the novel was for Duddy to learn an important lesson, what makes someone significant. The following is an instance where Richler does force pity on the reader through his writing: We betrayed you I suppose. Yes you did. He had spoken with such quiet and certainty that she began to doubt herself. Youll come crawling, he said. I want you to know something. Id sue you. Id even get Irwin Shubert to take the case. But Virgil wont let me. He doesnt even want to hear about it any more. You hate me, Duddy dais. Is that possible? I think youre rotten. I wish you were dead.
You dont understand, Yvette. Why cant I make you understand? Listen, Yvette, I But she turned away from him. The paragraph above does show how the readers emotions are in turmoil because of the sort of double standard created when the story is told so subjectively. Here even the other characters in the novel are shown not knowing whether to understand or condemn Duddy. Duddy s character is not often sympathized. However, Richler somehow finds a way to incorporate compassion. Although the reader does not feel that he should be feeling for Duddy, the way Richler writes makes the reader feel heartless.
Even when the reader does not want to be happy for Duddy, the written words indicate that a pride for Duddy should be present. For example, even after all the harm Duddy has caused, the last lines in the book still point toward happiness for the character. Thats all right sir. Well mark it. And suddenly Duddy did smile. He laughed. He grabbed Max, hugged him, and spun him around. You see, he said, his voice filled with marvel. You see. Right in that very sentence a sort of pride arose from the book to the reader even though any reader with a conscience realizes that this is not something to be blissful about.
Duddy eventually does become someone of somewhat significance save for going about it in a completely shameful way with partial reference above. Although Duddy is attempting to please his grandfather, the way Duddy conducts himself to get to a position that would be gratifying to his grandfather are appalling. Perhaps Richler had made comparable errors in his own youth. This book is almost like a personal account of ones own self-pity and reassurance. Richler definitely has a major soft spot for Duddy (just as he does for himself).