There is a lot of tension between modern culture and old culture in the film, East and West.Much intergenerational conflict occurs between Mollie and her father Morris and also between Mollie and the rest of the family from Poland. The differences between Mollie and her father and the rest of the family are immediately evident when they arrive in Poland.Morris is noticeably lacking the beard and traditional dress that most of the men have, and Mollie doesn't really fit in with her cropped hair cut, bold lipstick, and dress.
On one of the holiest holidays of the Jewish year Mollie distances herself yet further from the traditional culture.Instead of following along in her prayer book Mollie slips a novel in and reads while she pretends to be praying.While she was supposed to be fasting all day she sneaks back to her relative's house and eats the meal that was prepared for that night.Once she returns from satiating her appetite her cousin Zelda complains of hunger pains; Mollie, not wanting to miss out on attention, also feigns hunger pains.She doesn't care about anyone except herself. Jealous of Zelda's wedding Mollie decides to steal some attention by staging a mock wedding.In all the excitement Jacob gets dragged away from his studies to be the groom.Jacob places a ring on Mollie's finger, knowing that by Jewish law this will make them married.
Despite being urged not to by all of the learned men Jacob places the ring on Mollie's finger.Mollie is very upset about the whole marriage incident.Morris and Mollie consult the Rabbi who orders Jacob to set Mollie free.
He refuses to obey the Rabbi and turns his back on tradition.Everyone in the old culture rejects him. Jacob longs to be accepted by the traditional society, but at the same time also wishes to please Mollie.Since he is an outcast of society Jacob decides to leave and live with his Uncle in Vienna.When h..