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Suffer the Little ChildrenUses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children's Literature$
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Jodi Eichler-Levine

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814722992

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814722992.001.0001

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The Unbearable Lightness of Exodus

The Unbearable Lightness of Exodus

Chapter:
(p.29) 2 The Unbearable Lightness of Exodus
Source:
Suffer the Little Children
Author(s):

Jodi Eichler-Levine

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814722992.003.0002

This chapter examines the presence of the trope of exodus in Jewish and African American children's literature, ranging from echoes of exodus in Jewish immigration stories to African American texts on the Middle Passage and slavery. It first considers questions about history, suffering, and speech by offering a reading of Julius Lester's The Old African before moving to a discussion of the intersections between exodus tropes and archetypal American narratives, including the pilgrim story, cowboys, and treks to the western prairies. It then explores issues of leadership, Moses, and Miriam in Jewish and African American lore and how Jews and African Americans are figured together in narratives of suffering and escape. The chapter shows that crossing is a place of agreement and consensus because all Americans (except Native Americans) had to journey here in the past few centuries, and that exodus is the means through which minority groups engage with the ideas of crossing, strangeness, and covenant.

Keywords:   exodus, Jewish children's literature, African American children's literature, suffering, Julius Lester, The Old African, Jews, African Americans, crossing, strangeness

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