4: Excerpt from "Who Would Be Free" by Marian Spitzer, 1924.
Marian Spitzer (1899-1983) was a novelist, journalist, and screenwriter who wrote middlebrow fiction with feminist content in a sharp-witted, ironic tone. In this excerpt, taken from the opening pages of her first novel, Who Would Be Free, the protagonist, Eleanor Hoffman, takes part in a Jewish confirmation ritual, the culminating ceremony of Reform Jewish education. Those interested in learning more about the confirmation ritual in Reform Judaism might consult this article.
Suggested Activities: Ask students to write a list of Eleanor Hoffman’s emotions during this brief passage. How many of them are related to her feelings about the religious ritual itself? How many are related to social factors?
Ask students to discuss the following questions: Eleanor tellingly replaces the word “congregation” with “audience.” What is the relationship between theatrical performance and ritual? In what ways does this scene represent confirmation as a performance, and in what ways does it represent confirmation as a ritual? What point do you think the author is trying to make in emphasizing the theatrical elements of confirmation?
Source: Marian Spitzer, Who Would Be Free (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1924), 19-20.