Freedom for Spinoza
There are some ways that one can get to freedom from Spinoza. Some of the characters in The Fixer by Bernard Malamud tried in many ways to gain freedom. One of Yakov’s obstacles was the fact that he was a Jew. Spinoza taught that if we become creators of our future and cease to be the slaves of our past, then one could find freedom. Also, if one knows and exists free from uncontrolled passion, then that one is also free. Here are some examples of how some of the people in The Fixer by Bernard Malamud tried to gain freedom through Spinoza’s teachings.
One way that Yakov tried to liberate himself using Spinoza’s ideas was when Yakov left his village to go to work in Kiev. His past was in his village and he moves on to become bigger and better things. Another way that Yakov took charge of his life was when he gave the old horse away to the boatman. The horse was part of his past, and it was slowing him down. When he was rid of the debilitated horse, he felt liberated of the burden. Yakov also made an alias, which was Yakov Ivanovitch Dologushev. His last name was part of his past, and he tried to leave it behind when he chose that alias. Furthermore, he shaved his beard, since it also reminded him of his past and he needed to move on.
Raisl, who was Yakov’s ex-wife, also was trying to follow the teachings of Spinoza. She also wanted to move away from the town with him since she also felt that they could be better. Before, all they had were cows and food on the table. They were also trying for a child. Since Raisl was found to be barren, Yakov was tired of trying to have a child with her. Since he was not trying anymore, she left him for another man. In this way, Raisl took charge of her life and ceased to be a slave of her past. Also, Zhitnyak, a former prison guard, gives Yakov a copy of the New Testament. By giving Yakov the New Testament to read, Zhitnyak threw away all his previous thoughts about Jews and gave Yakov a chance.
Another freedom that Spinoza speaks about is “We are only free when we know and exist free from uncontrolled passion.” Yakov is not passionate about any religions. Although he was born Jewish, he doesn’t really believe in the religion itself. Therefore, Yakov would be free of the burden that he felt that religion put upon him. However, he never got the papers changed from Judiac to No religion, since being a Judaic is who Yakov is. This is also how Yakov tries to gain freedom by the teachings of Spinoza.
There are many examples of how some people tried to gain freedom by using the teachings of Spinoza. One way to get freedom, is by becoming creators of our future and ceasing to be slaves of our past. But, one of Yakov Bok’s obstacles were that he was a Jew, and he could not shed that past. Another way to gain freedom through the teachings of Spinoza was to know and exist free of uncontrolled passion. These are from the many teachings of Baruch Spinoza, and they were the ways that Yakov tried to use to gain independence.