FIDDLER AND THE MELTING POT. Deresiewicz thinks that giving Tevya and his family America as a destination was important to the show’s success for a different reason than giving the show a happy ending (or at least avoiding an unhappy ending). He says: “The show was proposing itself as an origin myth. The story that began onstage concluded with its audience.” Deresiewicz argues that Fiddler arrived at a time —1964—when ethnic identity was becoming more important. The Jewish aspects of Fiddler were highly valued.
The metaphor of America as a “melting pot” in which immigrants were assimilated to a homogenized American identity was about to be replaced. Daniel Moynihan and Nathan Glazer had published their book about New York City, BEYOND THE MELTING POT in 1963, in which they argued that immigrants had maintained their ethnic identity for generations and that they would continue to do so. This retrospective essay by Jane Perlez from 1983 discusses some of the ways that Moynihan and Glazer were correct. The essay also suggests just how controversial BEYOND THE MELTING POT was in 1963.