The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is about a young Jewish Boy who is determined to make his fortune at all costs. He tosses aside honesty, friendship, and love in order to achieve his goal. The irony in this story, (which is also what made it so good to read), is that Duddy never realizes what he has done. He thinks that he is the most successful person because he has achieved his goal, when in fact, it has become obvious to everyone else around him that he is a failure because he has lost his soul. Small flashes of emotion show through sometimes, but they are almost heartlessly crushed. It is almost as if he thinks that to be human is to be frail.
This novel deals with many major themes. Among them is the decay of the Jewish traditions. Throughout the novel, there are many hints which state that the Jewish traditions are fading.
Many Jewish people in the story, including Duddy's father, Max, no longer attend the synogogue. The synogogue is no longer refered to as such, but is called a "Temple"ÃÂ. Prayers are conducted in English rather than in Hebrew. A Bar mitzvah is exploited and made into a film. The only person who is still in touch with their Jewish Background in the story is Simcha.
The other theme in this novel is a division of society. The people in the story are divided between poor Jews and rich gentiles. Materialism is also another major theme. The main character supports this theme throughout the entire novel. The only way to succeed is through materialism. Those who do not have money live on the reputation of others. An example of this is Max, who constantly refers to him and the Boy Wonder as being very close. He often brags of this and is very proud of this fact.
Finally, there is the theme of loss of morals. This theme is probably the most important. It is one that almost everyone in society can relate to. In order to achieve success and money, Duddy loses respect and his morals, without even realizing it. Perhaps this can be traced back to the quote "Man without land is nobody"ÃÂ, but a man without his morals is also a nobody.