This wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
Then again, I don’t know what I was expecting when I started reading it.
When I started reading this, I thought it would go in a completely different direction than it actually did. See, the opening ‘montage’ or storyline is about a teacher who is trying to deal with rowdy and rebellious students, one of whom is the eventual protagonist Duddy Kravitz.
It was this opening storyline, with the teacher’s wife dying after an apparent prank phone call, that led me to think the teacher would be the actual protagonist and Duddy would be more of an object undergoing an education in life.
This is not how things played out.
Instead, the story progresses to follow Duddy through his late teens (and early 20s?) as he seemingly matures and grows up and tries to achieve his life goal of being a landowner and becoming a “someone.”
We watch Duddy: suffer from antisemitism (real and perceived), get unknowingly (and knowlingly in the later stages) involved in the drug trade, become a mini movie mogul, use a woman for her being of legal age, and several other things that are slipping my mind at the moment.
I’m not sure whether I consider Duddy to be amoral, or a complete twat.
On the one hand, he is steadfast and obsessive towards achieving his dream of owning land, which is admirable. But it’s how he does it.
He’s clearly uncaring when it comes to the feelings and wellbeing of those around him. He gets into a relationship with Yvette, and because she’s of age and he’s not (I wish I knew how old Duddy was and what age is considered of age) the land he buys is in her name. This makes how he treats her so surprising, because if she wasn’t as stand-up a woman as she is, she could have screwed Duddy over and made the land hers.
Then there’s what Duddy does to Virgil. Uses him to get the pinball machines (although I have my suspicions he wasn’t entirely sure Virgil would come through), virtually abandons him post-crash, and then robs him to get the land. It’s at this point I wish Yvette had chosen to take the land and make it her own, because Duddy became total scum in my eyes by robbing Virgil.
And apparently this book is also a movie. I am intrigued to watch it now.