The Pagan Rabbi

What is the author's style in The Pagan Rabbi by Cynthia Ozick?

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As in many of Ozick's stories, this one is built upon multiple types of story framing. The first person narrator begins by narrating the events of the "present" time in the story, which begin when he learns of the suicide of rabbi Kornfeld. The narrator, however, explains the significance of the present events in relation to past events, which are related in a sort of "flashback" mode, jumping between past and present. When he goes to visit Sheindal, the rabbi's widow, she in turn narrates to him the story of her husband's behavior leading up to his suicide. When she gives the narrator the rabbi's notebook, the story unfolds through the narrator's discussion of direct quotes from the rabbi's writings. Later, when Sheindal hands him the letter Isaac left, the narrator is reluctant to read it; instead, Sheindal reads the letter aloud to him. This narrative technique creates a kind of "Chinese box" or Russian tea doll effect, whereby a story is revealed through multiple framing. The narrator is telling a story which is based on Sheindal's story of the rabbi, which is based on her reading aloud the rabbi's letter.

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The Pagan Rabbi