Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences




escapism, jewish literature, holocaust literature, comic books, golem


Modern Literature


This thesis examines Michael Chabon’s defense of escapist stories as manifested in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Through this work, Chabon traces the history of escapist stories and superheroes in Judaism through the anthropomorphic figure of Jewish folklore, the golem. Chabon explores the ways in which the creation of a golem overlaps with the creation of a comic book. Additionally, Chabon shows the ability of escapist stories—those that allow the reader to leave reality and enter into fantasy—to facilitate healing from deep emotional wounds. This healing is demonstrated through the journey of the protagonist, Josef Kavalier, as he relies on fantastical stories—both written by others and himself—to reacclimate to the world after trauma. In response to those who claim that escapist literature is only a turning away from reality and history, Kavalier & Clay demonstrates the value of escapist stories in facilitating recovery from trauma.