In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories

"He Was Removed from Them by a Thousand Miles" - Alienation as a Characteristic in Delmore Schwartz's Prose

In his two short stories "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" and "America! America!", Delmore Schwartz depicts two protagonists born in America to Jewish immigrant parents. These two protagonists and the world as it is seen through their eyes display one of the important characteristics of Schwartz's prose – alienation. His description of the Jewish experience in America, especially of the children of immigrants, is one of alienation, strangeness and displacement. These grown children do not find themselves in their parents' home or in the American society – as Shenandoah Fish wants to leave for Paris and the nameless protagonist of "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" wants to prevent his parents from getting married and starting a family. This inherent alienation from their parents and from the society also means self-alienation – as Shenandoah questions his own identity and the nameless protagonist can only relate to his family history via an outdated film in his dream. This is, according to Schwartz, the identity problem of the immigrants' children – they are neither American nor foreign, they are caught in a strange place of rejection of old values and acceptance of no new values.


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