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Chapter 1 Journal Entry: Asher as Artist

This chapter focuses on Asher's experiences as a very young boy. He describes his life very vividly considering he is of such a young age. It is amazing how deep his thoughts are and how advanced his mind seems to be for someone of that age. I feel this way because he deals with very mature topics in his life. He is constantly questioning the world which shows his desire to learn and is a reminder that he is just a child. He wants to understand everything. He displays great intelligence.

Asher expresses himself through his gifted capabilities in art. He considers his artistic talent to be a mystery because no one whom he has descended from has had a similar gift. The fact that Asher recognizes that he is so gifted what I see as a foreshadowing to his life to come. One can assume that he will somehow make a tremendous contribution to the art world through his drawings.

Asher's father tells him that drawing is "foolishness" (p. 17). However, Asher simply disagrees, which causes his father to say nothing to his son who was not yet five. On this subject I definitely agree with Asher, and feel that his father was wrong to make such a strong statement. Instead of recognizing Asher's gift, he said a very discouraging think to his son. The fact, though, that Asher stands up to his father in defense of his drawings, shows that he believes in himself. It shows that he loves to draw and has all intentions on continuing to draw even though his father may disprove.

I think Asher's uncle did a great thing by buying an "early Lev" (p. 35). Asher did not understand what his uncle meant by giving him a coin in place of his art. However, he planted a good seed in Asher's mind. He could not explain why he bought the drawing, however he showed his support of Asher by doing so. He also gave Asher the opportunity to ponder the idea of becoming a great artist. Asher showed his aspiration to be the best in the world when he asked about Picasso. He proved that he believes in himself and wants to make a name for himself, not just be "a little Chagall" (p. 35). These are huge goals for such a young child to already be striving for.

Asher wants to express the cold and the darkness that he is feeling in his drawings. However, for the first time is realizes that he is unsure of how to express such a subject. He is frustrated at this, since art has always been his way of displaying his feelings. The fact that he can not finish his painting of the Russian Jew is putting a pause on his talents. Asher speaks of being brothers with this man. He feels as though they are one when he states, "I felt closer to him at that moment than to any other human being in all the world" (p. 44). I see this as the reason why he can not finish his drawing of the Russian Jew. The man is a reflection of himself. Asher is unsure of how he feels about himself, or how to draw himself and therefore can not find the way he wants to express the cold and darkness burning so strong inside him. Additionally, when he can not recall the color of this man's hair, he colors it red. I think this shows two things. Since Asher's hair is red, it is showing that the picture is partly a self portrait, perhaps of him in another body. Additionally the red hair could symbolize the hell of the cold and the darkness. It shows the struggle the Russian Jew survived in Siberia.

On the last page of the chapter Asher tells us that he has stopped drawing. He describes how everything would remain unfinished and he would grow up. However, I hope that he does not follow through with this plan. I feel this way because I think his mother was right in her reasoning that nothing should remain unfinished. At this point Asher's work is remaining unfinished. I foresee that Asher will eventually finish it just as his mother plans to finish her brother's work.

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