The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a story about a young boy who is willing to do anything to get what he wants. The novel shows how we live in a materialistic society in which people are more concerned with achieving financial success rather than living in a life guided by clear morals and fair values. The three characters in the story that is more concerned with financial success rather than clear morals are: Duddy Kravitz, Jerry Dingleman and Mr. Cohen. The first character in the story that cares about financial success is Duddy Kravitz.
Duddy shows this by ripping off Mr. Cohen on the film, ripping off Virgil on the pinball machines and taking Virgil’s money. When Duddy first started his film company his first customer is Mr. Cohen. Since Duddy is in need of money for his land, he tries to get as much money as he can for the poorly made bar mitzvah film. “For twenty-five hundred dollars in all I’ll make you a silent partner” (p. 151). Even though Mr. Cohen is a good friend to Duddy, he still tries to get the most amount of money he can out of him. The next thing Duddy does to show he cares more about financial success is he rips Virgil off on the pinball machines.
Duddy tells Virgil that he will give him a thousand dollars for all of the machines. After Duddy sells the machines he gives Virgil a truck that is not worth the amount of money he owes him. “Duddy, I’m very tired. I want to go to sleep. I know that truck isn’t costing you more than five or six hundred dollars” (p. 222). Lastly, the worst thing Duddy does is that he forges a check from Virgil to pay for his land. “He forged the signature by holding the cheque and a letter Virgil had signed up to the window and tracing slowly” (p. 316).
This shows the true evil side of Duddy and the side that wins in the end. The second person in the novel that shows he cares more about financial success rather than having clear morals is Jerry Dingleman. Jerry Dingleman shows this by the merit card scam, illegally gambling to get rich and getting Duddy to smuggle drugs for him. When Dingleman was attending Fletcher Field High School, he was a student of Mr. Macpherson. Mr. Macpherson gave out merit cards to the students that were good and well behaved. On the third month, Jerry Dingleman had the most cards even though he wasn’t awarded any.
On the threat of a week’s expulsion from the school Dingleman confessed that he won all the cards playing nearest-to-the-wall with the other boys in the toilet, and so the system ended” (p. 3). Secondly, Dingleman became rich by gambling illegally with gangsters. “Picture him, Macdonald, a twenty-nine-year-old boy from St. Urbain Street and he’s not even made his name yet… ” (p. 19). The last thing Dingleman does to show he cares about financial success is that he gets Duddy to smuggle drugs into Montreal for him. Dingleman takes Duddy to New York to talk about business but it’s not the business Duddy thought it was about.
On the way back to Montreal, Dingleman tells Duddy that they don’t know each other and he gives him a suitcase. “There was no coffee in the tin, but the white sweet-smelling dust inside meant nothing to him” (p. 143). This shows that Jerry Dingleman is a drug smuggler and doesn’t care about his morals. The last person in the novel that shows he cares more about money than fair values is Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen shows this by trying to rip Duddy off on the bar mitzvah film, getting a guy killed working for him and only buying the film because Duddy tells him it’s going to be worth lots of money.
When Duddy first offers to make a film for Mr. Cohen’s son, Mr. Cohen tries to take advantage of him. “You go ahead and make me a film of Bernie’s bar-mitzvah. If I like it I’ll give you a thousand dollars for it. If not you can go and burn it” (p. 122). Once Duddy learns a few things in the business world and finishes the film, he goes back to Mr. Cohen to get more money. He tells Mr. Cohen that he doesn’t want to sell the film because it’s too good to sell. “I’d cut you in for twenty per cent of the net theatre profits… ” (p. 151). Lastly, after Virgil is in an accident Duddy goes and talks to Mr. Cohen.
Mr Cohen tells him not to worry about it and move on in life. “Duddy, in my yard once there was an accident with the derrick and a goy got killed… ” (p. 271). This shows that Mr. Cohen cares more about money and supporting his family than living life guided by clear morals. In Conclusion, the three characters that are more concerned with achieving financial success rather than living a life guided by clear morals and fair values are Duddy Kravitz, Jerry Dingleman and Mr. Cohen. Duddy is constantly ripping people off to get as much money as he can. Jerry Dingleman is a drug smuggler and Mr. Cohen does what’s best for him or his family.