Gimpel The Fool Essay

Gimpel The Fool Essay-66
But they may have been too focused on how Gimpel starts, rather than where he finishes.It is no accident that when he comes to his senses -- rejecting Frampol, but keeping his own innate goodness intact -- he, like Singer, takes flight and becomes a storyteller."Gimpel" is, in the end, a sly rebuke to rationalism, and is a story in which the author explains, and defends, his decision to become a writer.

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After she dies, the Spirit of Evil visits Gimpel in a dream, and tells him to get his revenge on the town by urinating in the dough before he bakes it, so the townspeople can "eat filth." Gimpel decides not to.

Instead, he leaves Frampol and becomes a wandering storyteller who spins "yarns -- improbable things that could never have happened -- about devils, magicians, windmills and the like" -- much like Singer himself.

He works as a baker in an Eastern European shtetl, where life hews closely to tradition.

The townspeople, having come to appreciate Gimpel's credulity, mislead him in increasingly significant ways.

"Enemies" centers on a Holocaust survivor in New York, and the three refugee women he juggles, who are as damaged as he is.

On the surface, Gimpel's world is far less fraught.Singer's writings often dwell on the darkness of the human heart: the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman called him the "Yiddish Hawthorne." Many of his works, including two that were made into movies, "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy" and "Enemies, a Love Story," have psychically wounded protagonists.Yentl is a rabbi's daughter with "the soul of a man and the body of a woman," who must live as a man to study Torah.Elka refuses to let Gimpel into their bed after the wedding, and four months later she gives birth to a boy.Everyone knows that Gimpel is not the father; “the whole House of Prayer rang with laughter.” When he confronts Elka about this, she insists that the child is premature and is Gimpel’s.When Rietze the Candle-dipper tells him his parents have risen from the grave and are looking for him, Gimpel knows full well this cannot be, but he goes outside to look just in case: “What did I stand to lose just by looking? For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses Paradise himself.” Gimpel considers leaving town, but the people will not hear of it. He sees several flaws in Elka, his prospective bride, but the townspeople tell him his perceptions are wrong.” This incident creates such an uproar that he vows not to believe anything else, but that does not work either. The rabbi tells Gimpel, “It is written, better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil. Elka’s “bastard” son is really her little brother, and her limp is “deliberate, from coyness.” Furthermore, they threaten to have the rabbi fine him for giving her a bad name.He consults a rabbi, who tells him, "It is written, better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil." Gimpel ends up defending his faith with an arresting comparison: "Today it's your wife you don't believe; tomorrow it's God Himself you won't take stock in.""Gimpel" is, at least partly, a tribute to a classic Eastern European Jewish type, the simple, long-suffering man who accepted what the world handed him, and a dissent from the emerging, modern sensibility that argued for a more active approach to the world.When the story was written, many of Singer's fellow Yiddish writers were socialists, or idealists of other stripes.In his Nobel lecture, Singer argued that storytellers might have the best chance of anyone to "rescue civilization." Writing fiction might not seem like the most direct way to improve the human condition, but Singer suggested that in a world where politics often failed, or worse, succeeded disastrously, intelligent, logical interactions with the world -- the kind Gimpel spent a lifetime avoiding -- may well be overrated.Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story “Gimpel the Fool,” opens with Gimpel, the narrator, announcing that he is called a fool but does not think of himself as one.


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