SON OF A SMALLER HERO by Mordecai Richler

What is the central truth about people in the novel?
I think the central truth that Richler writes about in this novel concerns our right to be happy. In the novel we witness the main characters suffering because of the fear to protect their rights. One of the brightest examples is Melech. On one hand he is presented as a stern and ambitious character who isnt afraid to accept a challenge. In pursuit of happiness he leaves his homeland and comes to Canada with only fifty cents. He makes a living working in the scrap yard and still he can afford to have ten children. It seems that he succeeded in life, but on the other hand he isnt happy at all. At the end he feels guilty about his Polish girlfriend who he misses all his life. He and she truly loved each other, but Melech was too afraid to rebel against his family which forbade him to marry her. A similar situation happens to his oldest son, Wolf. Unlike his father, he is a small man
who accomplished nothing in life. He works in Melechs scrap yard and cant do anything about his miserable life. Being always afraid of Melech, he has to marry against his will. Later he even has to make a child because Melech tells him to. Submitting to his father, Wolf voluntarily gives away his freedom and turns his life into a torture. It seems that fear to stick up for ones own rights is a common problem in the Adlers family. In this case Noah is represented as a hero and an example to be followed. Living in the Jewish community he cant afford to be a loser and an embarrassment to his family. He knows what is right for him, and sets off into the gentile world, even if its different and against the laws of his grandfather. He failed to be a real Jew, but partly it happened by his initiative. He wanted to be someone different, may be better or worse for him, but still someone. Unlike both of his predecessors, he is natural and rebels for his rights. Through his example, Richler suggests that for any human being there are things that are much more important than laws.