Reply To: Lesson 3 The Role of External Challenges, Escalation

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Hi, Ruchama

Daniel wants the title because it offers security, power, and wealth.
He needs (and probably wants in a good way) his Jewish heritage because it offers true identity, integrity, and connection.

It almost comes off as a dilemma, but a sketchy one because readers could end up yelling “Wake up, Daniel!” at the book because he actively pursues a false choice and ignores a real need. The current story may have that taken care of, but I can’t tell from the summary.

Now, to the expectations. It appears that Daniel knows full well that he must surrender his Jewish identity to get the title he craves. What’s his estimation of the cost? I’m guessing insignificant until he meets Rebecca. What’s the true cost that exceeds his expectations? Loss of true identity, sacrificed for the title. (It might be good to also explore what happens with his estimation once the true cost is in front of him in the form of Rebecca. As stated, it appears he will go from unaware to completely aware quickly. Is it possible he learns slowly? And makes choices that seem good, but get in the way of full realization. If not, the reader might see him as foolish.)

There is a fascinating connection between the desire for the title and the need to embrace his Jewish heritage — identity. Usually when identity is in play, the flaw is pride. Pride does not just mean boastful and arrogant. Ultimately, pride is about holding onto a false sense of self to the detriment of self-realization and connections with others. Which sounds like what’s happening here.

One more thing, not related to the exercise. This is probably not a problem, but I can read between the lines and see a reappearance of Andrew late in the story. If that makes things harder for Daniel, good. If it helps him solve his dilemma, it becomes a deus ex machina, which will undercut the novel’s ending.


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