Philip Roth’s Defender of the Faith Short Story

The American societal setting entails individuals who are always in control and possess some degree of power that enables the individual to possess some levels of superiority complex. Individuals who portray a superiority complex against other people in society tend to subject other individuals in lower ranks and classes to various circumstances that diminish other groups in the societal setting.

People holding higher positions in society should ensure that they use the power vested in them to contribute positively to other individuals’ well-being and the society as a whole. Individuals in various positions should ensure high levels of loyalty in their activities in various positions that they have been assigned to work in.

In the story, “Defender of the Faith” the major events happen between 1945, a few moments after the end of the Second World War when the major Protagonist is being introduced to other junior members of the American military troops in the camp. (Steinberg) When Sergeant Nathan Marx is being introduced to the rest of the military members in the base, they are assured that he expects to deal with mature soldiers and not just boys and girls.

Sergeant Nathan Marx and Captain Paul Barrette are among the experienced soldiers who were sent to Germany to fight for America. Captain Paul Barrette was deported back to America after sustaining an injury from the war in Germany, and he is currently one of the senior captains at Camp Crowder, Missouri.

Sergeant Nathan Marx, the new sergeant in the military who has been granted the power to lead the trainees in the camp, has come up with new changes in the camp to ensure that all the trainees in the camp are treated equally and consider that their activities within the camp do not violate other individuals cultural practices in the camp. Sergeant Marx brings about some changes, such as removing the Friday night events because Friday is a day set for Jews to pray. Sergeant Nathan Marx has ensured that no individuals are granted special treatment while in the camp.

The different events taking place in the camp under Sergeant Nathan Marx’s control expose Marx as an individual battling different post-traumatic events that he had experienced while in the combatant’s world in the Second World War. He struggles to find his real identity and free himself from all the events that he experienced while still in Germany fighting for his country. (Steinberg)The horrific scenarios and events in Germany during the Second World War had a very negative impact on Sergeant Marx’s social life, which has made him two different personalities and struggles to effectively settle his well-being while in the camp.

Some of the major themes exhibited in the story, “Defender of the Faith” is the theme of religion within our societies. It is quite unfortunate that the story’s major events took place almost at the same time when the Jewish Holocaust was a major problem within other major parts of the world. The Jewish individuals had been subjected to different forms of discrimination and circumstances that are against human rights, such as torture and cold-blood murder.

The Jewish Holocaust is one of the most disastrous interreligious wars to ever take place in the world. In a bid to avoid unnecessary conflicts within the society, it is important to ensure high levels of respect for other individuals’ religious affiliations. In the Military camp, the Jews were allowed to conduct their services freely without interruption from external or internal forces within the military camp.

Racism and ethnicity are also among the major factors that were greatly displayed in the story, “Defender of the Faith”. Sergeant Marx was also a Jew, but he did not abide by the Jewish rules and regulations for a long time because of the different forms of discrimination they were subjected to. (Budick)Most individuals in the American setting have embraced different forms of racism and ethnicity and find it comfortable judging individuals based on their race and ethnic background in society.

The minority groups within the society are the most affected because they make up the smallest group within the society, making it easier for the majority groups to oppress them due to their superiority complex possessed by them.

The author of the book, defending the Faith, also intends to highlight and portray some of the major impacts of war on humanity. The Second World War brought about different impacts to the well-being of different individuals within the society. The Second World War brought about the rise of the Jewish Holocaust in different parts of Europe which saw more than 1 million Jews in Europe getting killed and murdered without fair trial but out of hate.

Other Jewish individuals who survived were displaced and moved to other parts of Europe. Other non-Jewish individuals also suffered the different impacts of the war. For example, the soldiers from the western world, such as the United States American Troops, were also affected by the negative impacts of the war. Sergeant Nathan Marx and Captain Paul Barrette are among the individuals who have been affected by the war.

Another major theme that the writer of the story, “Defender of the Faith,” has highlighted is loyalty, where individuals holding various positions have to choose from different circumstances that bring about dilemmas. Sergeant Nathan Marx does not practice any form of favoritism or special treatment to his fellow Jewish individuals who are in the camp. Sheldon Grossberg, a trainee at Camp Crowder military camp in Missouri, felt that he was entitled to favoritism because he is also a Jew.

However, Sergeant Nathan Marx ensures high levels of integrity in most of his operations and loyalty to his country by acting with integrity within the American Army. (Glenn) Sergeant Nathan Marx also portrays loyalty to his religion when he opts to grant the Jewish community in the military camp an opportunity to attend all the Jewish church proceedings in the camp.

In the story, “Defender of the Faith”, the writer tries to portray and explain what it is to be a Jew and a soldier during the Second World War. (Budick)Most Jews were subjected to different forms of circumstances that are against human rights. Most soldiers who participated in the Second World War were also affected by the different horrific life-changing experiences while fighting in different parts of Europe. Sergeant Nathan Marx is also faced with the dilemma of living different lives with different personalities as a normal person, as a Jewish individual, and as military personnel, which is a very delicate situation because they all require loyalty from one individual.

Works Cited

Budick, Emily Miller. “Philip Roth’s Jewish Family Marx and the Defense of Faith.” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, vol. 52, no. 3, 1996, pp. 55–70. Web.

Glenn, Susan A. “The Vogue of Jewish Self-Hatred in Post: World War II America.” Jewish Social Studies, vol. 12, no. 3, 2006, pp. 95–136. Web.

Steinberg, Gillian. “Philip Roth’s ‘Defender of the Faith’: A Modern Midrash.” Philip Roth Studies, vol. 1, no. 1. 2005, pp. 7–18. Web.

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