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Gimpel the Fool Follows the Archetype Well



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    There are a variety of different conclusions that one can reach in interpreting the story of Gimpel the Fool. The story draws its roots from the deep Yiddish background of the author, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and it deals with the traditional ?fool? archetype dealt with so often in the culture. The very archetype is plagued with irony, as the fool is typically seen as coming out on top of all of the others in the story, making them seem as the fool rather than the ?fool? himself. .

    In some instances, the idea of this particular archetype can be frustrating, as the typical reader may want the main character to get the revenge he deserves. This is rarely the case, as in doing so, it would make the main character the fool that everyone else believes him to be. The main theme behind the story of Gimpel is that even though everyone viewed him as a fool, they ended up being the ones who were truly foolish. Isaac Bashevis Singer was born in a Jewish village in Poland in 1904, while it was still part of Russia.

    He comes from a long line of rabbis, and his father intended to send him to the Warsaw Rabbinical Seminary to continue this tradition. He left the school in order to proofread for a Yiddish literary magazine, and to translate foreign novels into Yiddish. Singer wrote his first novel, Satan in Goray in 1935. He left his wife and son to settle in New York City, and shortly divorced and remarried. When he came to America in 1935, he followed in the footsteps of his brother, Joshua Israel Singer. He joined the Jewish Forward, a Manhattan based Yiddish newspaper.

    Some of his stories and novels were serialized in the Forward. He eventually turned to writing fiction, including long stories and short stories. His short stories are typically more acclaimed than the longer ones. ?His work deals mostly with the exotic heritage of Polish Jews, their traditional faith and folkways, their daily village life, their mysticism, their colorful personal relationships, their religious fanaticism, and their sexuality (Hart). ? In 1978, Singer received the Nobel Prize. He was the first and only Yiddish writer to do so.

    His novels tend to be realistic, traditional narratives. His stories are characterized by folkatlae, psychology, supernatural occurrences, but otherwise realism. His subject matter is always Jewish. Fiction Essays 48 There is a lot of complexity in the story of Gimpel the Fool. The archetype of Gimpel himself is that of the traditional Yiddish schiemiel. The schiemiel is the ?fool? archetype. Even though he is plagued with misfortune, he ultimately wins out in some way and gains an understanding that others that are not in his situation can never hope to grasp. This is the case with Gimpel.

    Even though he is the butt of everyone‘s jokes, he maintains his priorities, and holds to his convictions. In the end, he resolves to become a wandering holy man, and even though he has been deceived and lied to his whole life, which he was quite aware of, he knows that in the next life, there will be no one who will deceive him ever again. ?In the Yiddish joke, the schlemiel is dogged by an ill luck, somehow of his own making. What the jokes celebrate- for all their pratfall and farce- are victories of common sense. Life‘s human comedy outstrips the illusion of man-made follies (Pinsker). ?Because Gimpel takes the spirit of evil seriously, he is able to reject it and remove himself from a cycle of retribution which would destroy his essential integrity. In the end, he alone among the villagers refuses to fool himself (Angus). ? Gimpel the fool is a man who does not consider himself a fool at all. Others do, as he is quite easy to take advantage of, and everyone in his village does almost any chance they get. When he was young, he once skipped school because the other kids told him that the rabbi‘s wife was going to give birth, even though she did not even look pregnant.

    His reason for believing was because he never looked at her belly, so how should he know? He believed everyone who pranked him, as ?everything is possible,? as is written in the Wisdom of the Fathers. Gimpel was an orphan raised by his grandfather, who died early on, and was taken in by a baker. Everyone tried to fool him while he was living with the baker. Even with as much as he was made fun of, he never chose to fight back. He was not a weakling and could have fought back, but chose not to. The rabbi once told him ?It is written, beter to be a fool al your days than for one hour to be evil.

    You are not a fool. They are the fools. For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses Paradise himself. ? Regardless, the rabbi‘s own daughter played a prank on him. Gimpel later gets tricked into marrying a divorced woman. He had suspicions the whole time, but decided to go ahead with it anyway. Her name was Elka, and she was an orphan like Gimpel. Fiction Essays 49 Four months into their marriage, Elka gave birth to a son. She tried to tell him that it was his son, but he didn‘t believe her at first. He came to love the child, and didn‘t dislike her, either, even though she yelled and cursed at him.

    One day, Gimpel came home to find a man laying in bed with his wife while they were sleeping, and although he was angered, he decided not to do anything in fear of waking the child. He went to the rabbi for advice, and the rest of the town raised a commotion. Elka denied the accusation. The rabbi told Gimpel that he must divorce her. Gimel began to miss Elka and the child, as he was forced to live apart from them. He went to the rabbi to tell him that he had made a mistake. Elka gave birth to a girl, and at this point, he vowed to believe everything that he was told.

    The rabbi had written to some other important scholars, and one of them had found some obscure rule that stated that Gimpel could go back to his wife. As he returned home, Gimpel found her in bed with the baker‘s apprentice. Elka tricked him again, and accused him of being crazy and delusional. He continued to live with her. After twenty years of being married to her, Elka fell ill, and before she died, she confessed that none of the children were his, and that she had deceived him. At night, the Spirit of Evil came to Gimpel, and told him to take revenge upon the whole town by urinating in the bread dough.

    He does, but is also visited by Elka, presumable from Hell. She persuades him to undo the deed, which he obeys. He goes home, and gathers his wealth to divide amongst Elka‘s children. He then leaves the village. He wanders and becomes very old, and comes to believe that there are actually no lies at all. He lives his life wandering and telling stories to children. He also says that he world is no doubt an imaginary world, and that when he goes on to the next world, it will be a place not even he can be deceived. As I read Gimpel the Fool, I made the connection between the character of Gimpel and that of Hosea.

    Both marry women who are unfaithful to them. The difference between the two is that God is speaking directly to Hosea and makes the parallel between his wife‘s adultery and the adultery of Israel to the Lord. It seems that Gimpel is startlingly similar to Hosea, and considering Singer was Yiddish, this is surely intentional. In Hosea, God tells him to take a wife who was unfaithful, and in Gimpel the Fool, his fellow villagers convince him to marry Elka. There are a lot of implications that can be drawn Fiction Essays 50 from this. What exactly is Singer trying to say about God in this situation?

    It can be interpreted that Singer sees God as like the villagers. The villagers were mean, and picked on Gimpel constantly. Is this Singer‘s view of God? I am unsure, but it is quite disturbing if this is the sense. Gimpel plays the fool all throughout the story, and accepts it. He travels as a holy man in the end, and tells stories to little kids. He comes to believe that there is no such thing as lies, and that the world in which we live is not reality at all. In the life after this, he will be in a place that not even he will be able to be lied to. Ezra Schwartz, a secular Israeli Jew made an animation of the short story.

    He set animation and music to the narration of the story in Yiddish. It is not merely an illustration of the story, but in a sense, a video/audio commentary on the work itself. Schwartz seemed to have few qualms about animating things to his own interpretation, be it an exaggeration of certain characters to make a point or the strange flow of the transitions. One of the transitions in particular is when Gimpel marries Elka, and they partake of a glass of wine together. After Elka drinks, her body twists and whirls, becoming liquid-like, swirling back into the glass. The glass transitions into that of Gimpel stomping on that same glass.

    Not only does it have some cultural relevance, it also says something of Schwartz‘ interpretation. He even goes so far as to entirely drop the end of the story, completely altering the story even though it was not his intention. Schwartz, by not including the ending, changes it greatly. He leaves it open for existential interpretation. It is easy to be unhappy with this story. In the story of Hosea, it is almost certain that Hosea was unhappy with the lot in life that he received. He was told by God to marry an unfaithful woman, and go back to her when she did the inevitable.

    However, this only a small fraction of the pain that God feels every time we sin against him. How can we even relate? Hosea‘s example shows that even though we all sin against God and deserve death, God will always come back to us. He will actively seek us. Hosea does the same in dealing with his wife, and he must have surely seen the connection between he and his wife and God and Israel. For a different perspective, how would Hosea‘s wife and the rest of Israel have seen the character of Hosea? They surely would have seen him a fool for returning to his clearly unfaithful wife. Hosea as we now him certainly is not, but the rest of Israel would not have likely seen it this way. Gimpel fits in with this archetype as well, although the ending is certainly different. He marries the unfaithful woman, yet goes back to here every time that she cheats against him. He loves her though she does not love him back. He goes to sin, but then redeems himself. He becomes a holy man gives his wealth to the children whom were not even his. His sacrifice was loving a woman that didn‘t love him back, and this is the same way that God loves us. Arriving at a particular interpretation of Gimpel the Fool is a complex process.

    Even in re-reading it, there are many things and subtle nuances that one may miss. The given examples in comparison between Gimpel the Fool and the book of Hosea are not limited to the aforementioned, as there are surely more. It seems that the story, as well as many others of the schiemiel archetype, borrowed extensively from Hosea. The main idea to draw from Gimpel the Fool is that even if people look down on you as a fool, do not let your anger consume you. Chances are, they are most likely more foolish than you, and don‘t let anyone make you into the fool that everyone assumes you to be.

    This is certainly something that goes against human nature. When we are wronged, we feel the need for retribution. Gimpel was able to control this need for retribution. He may have been a bit more trusting than everyone else, but he certainly wasn‘t an idiot. He knew what was happening to him most of the time, but he chose to be the better man anyway. This is a view on life that we should try to examine ourselves. In his story, Gimpel the Fool, Isaac Bashevis Singer indirectly poses the question, ?What makes a man a fool? ? Singer is a renowned Yiddish author and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1978 (Benet’s, 903).

    His question is not an easy one to answer. It is plain to see, when one reads the story, that Gimpel is a fool. The hard question is why. It is my theory that Gimpel is a fool because he built his house upon ?the sand. ? Gimpel is a fool at the beginning of the story, and he is a fool all throughout the story. Gimpel is a fool because he always bases his faith on human wisdom, which is ever changing. In the very last sentences of the story though, it seems that Gimpel acknowledges heaven as the only true world. Can there be redemption for such a fool as Gimpel?

    I do not believe that it is an accident that Singer describes the house that Gimpel and Elka live in as a ?clay house, which was built on the sand? (Gioia, 747). This is a red flag to anyone who is well-versed in scripture. It should immediately bring to one’s mind Matthew 7: 24-27, which is the parable of the wise man and the foolish man: 24Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 6But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (www. biblegateway. com). Gimpel’s faith is not built on the words of Jesus. It is built on the shifting sands of human thinking. Gimpel is trying to decide truth based on his own human capacities, which is his major character flaw. Gimpel is the proverbial foolish man of Matthew.

    7. In the end, he pays for his foolishness, and his wife tells him on her death bed that none of their children are his. Even worse, she tells him that she cannot be sure of who their fathers actually are because ?there were a lot? (Gioia, 753). Fiction Essays 69 Gimpel’s ideals and reasoning are always changing through out the story. His first resolution was to believe whatever he was told. ?For all his life, Gimpel has been known as a fool. He relates that, early in life, he decided to believe everything he heard in order to avoid being harassed for his reactions to people’s jokes? (Smith, 254).

    Early in his life, Gimpel relied on his own wisdom to decide what he should believe. His wisdom was that if he believed everyone, then they would not become angry with him. In the words of Gimpel, ?I had to believe them when the whole town came down on me! If ever I dared to say ‘Ah, you’re kidding! ‘ there was trouble? (Gioia, 746). The test came for this resolution when the townspeople tricked Gimpel into believing that his parents were back from the dead. Gimpel did not believe them at first, but then he could not be sure. He went to check, and the townspeople made fun of him.

    After this happened, Gimpel said, ?And then I took a vow to believe nothing more? (Gioia, 746). Gimpel knew that these people had tricked him before, and he resolved not to trust them anymore. He is so close to moving off the sand here. Psalms 146:3 says, ?Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save? (www. biblegateway. com). If Gimpel had stuck to his guns about not trusting men and matured in his faith to trust God, his circumstances may have been different. Perhaps a very great tragedy in this story is the next sentence after this resolution, ?But that was no good either.

    They confused me so that I didn’t know the big end from the small? (Gioia, 746). Gimpel’s inconsistent belief system is evidence that he is living on the sand. Every time trouble arose in his life, he fell flat. Because he had built his life upon the sand, he let himself be coerced into a terrible marriage. He did not believe that Elka was what the townspeople said she was. ?She was no chaste maiden, but they told me she was a virgin pure… She had a bastard, and they told me it was her little brother. I cried, ‘You’re wasting your time. I’ll never marry that whore! ‘ (Gioia, 747).

    He knew that she was a harlot, but he went to meet her anyway because the townspeople threatened to turn him into the rabbi for sullying her name. This is what he got for believing the lying tongues of the townspeople once again: ?Ten times a day she threatened to divorce me. Another man in my place would have taken French leave and disappeared. But I’m the type that bears it and says nothing. What’s one to do? Shoulders are from God, and burdens are too? (Gioia, 749). He describes his marriage as a burden. That is not the romantic, happy language a newly-wed should be using to describe his marriage.

    His marriage only gets worse from there out. Fiction Essays 70 One night when there is trouble at the bakery, Gimpel goes home midweek to sleep in his own bed. He finds another man with Elka. Instead of screaming and waking the baby, he leaves quietly, goes back to the bakery, and then tells the rabbi what he saw the next morning. ?Gimpel chooses not to believe anymore. He is not going to be made a sucker all his life… But even this self-awareness does not prevent Gimpel from longing to return home after the rabbi orders him to divorce Elka for her adultery.

    Love makes him rationalize his wife’s betrayal: he was hallucinating? (Janik, 216). Love is not a firm foundation on which to base truth either. Gimpel is still making his house on the sand. Gimpel is still a fool. Because Gimpel went back to tell the rabbi that he was wrong and that Elka had not committed adultery, they tried to find a way for him to return home. They found ?an obscure reference in Maimonides that favored? him (Gioia, 751). In so doing, Gimpel found yet another sandy surface to build his house upon. As he contemplates returning home he thinks to himself, ?Maimonides says it’s right, and therefore it is right! (Gioia, 751). Gimpel is still a fool. Maimonides was just a man, who was also prey to human wisdom. Here is the wisdom of Maimonides: ?Teach thy tongue to say ‘I do not know,’ and thou shalt progress? also ?You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes? (www. brainyquote. com). That is a direct affront to living on the Rock. Jesus’ words are the rock that we are told to build our house upon. In John 14:6 Jesus says, ?I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me? (www. biblegateway. com). One cannot believe Maimonides and Jesus at the same time.

    Maimonides says truth can come from any source. Jesus says He is truth. Since Gimpel chooses to believe Maimonides, he continues on in being a fool. Because of Gimpel’s faith in something other than Biblical truth, once again his house crumbles. He returns home after nine long months of waiting for the rabbis to find him an answer only to find the apprentice that he had asked to take food to his wife sleeping in his bed. Apparently, Maimonides could not erase the fact that Gimpel’s wife was the town whore. She told Gimpel to go check on the goat and bought her lover time to get away.

    When Gimpel returned and asked where he had gone, she said that no one has been there. She said to him, ?An evil spirit has taken root in you and dazzles your sight? (Gioia, 752). It is evident that he did not believe her because the next day he accuses the apprentice, but he also denies the encounter. From this point on, Gimpel becomes even more foolish. He says, ?All kinds of things happened, but I neither saw nor heard? (Gioia, 753). Instead of trying to rely on his own Fiction Essays 71 wisdom, his feelings of love, or on the wisdom of ?wise men?, Gimpel simply shuts down and ignores the truth.

    He probably sees more men in his bed with his wife, but he ignores it. The part that sickens me to the core is what he tells his wife while she lays dying. She tries to confess to Gimpel that she did, in fact, have all those affairs that she had told him he had imagined, but he tells her, ?You have been a good and faithful wife? (Gioia, 753). How thick can a person be?! Gimpel had completely checked out. Choosing to ignore the truth was still a way that Gimpel continued to build his house upon the sand. Even when she tried to tell him the truth that he had so long wanted to know, he refused to acknowledge it.

    He continued on in his foolish ways. Shortly after the death of his wife, Gimpel has a dream. The devil comes and tells him that there is no God only ?a thick mire? (Gioia, 754). As if Gimpel could make no more foolish choice, he chooses to take stock in the words of the devil himself! If building your life on the words of men is considered building your house on the sand, then building your life on the words of the devil is like building your house on quick sand! There was no way that this new perspective of Gimpel’s was going to end happily.

    The devil told Gimpel to pee into the dough for the bread and make all of the townspeople of Frampol eat his filth. Gimpel did as he was told. Then he saw Elka in a dream, and she reprimanded him. He buried all the bread, and then he did something strange. He runs away from home and goes ?into the world? (Gioia, 754). Gimpel left Frampol and became a drifter. His logic becomes very existential. ?I heard a great deal, many lies and falsehoods, but the longer I lived the more I understood that there were really no lies. Whatever doesn’t really happen is dreamed at night.

    It happens to one of it doesn’t happen to another, tomorrow if not today, or a century hence if not next year. What difference can it make? ? (Gioia, 755). Again, this is not a system built upon the Word. Gimpel is building his worldview based on his experiences. He concluded that there were no lies. Even if a person lied and told him that something happened to him that did not, this was not a lie because it must have happened to some one. Gimpel had spent his whole life trying to ascertain what the truth really was. He pursued sandy shores, and his house continuously fell.

    In the very last paragraph of Gimpel the Fool, it seems that Singer wants to redeem Gimpel. Gimpel acknowledges that heaven is the only true world when he says, ?No doubt the world is entirely an imaginary world, but it is only once removed from the true world? (Gioia, 755). Is Gimpel finally starting to understand? Is he finally starting to see that he has been building his Fiction Essays 72 house on the sand all the years of his life. In the last lines of the story, Gimpel says, ?Whatever may be there, it will be real, without complication, without ridicule, without deception.

    God be praised: there even Gimpel cannot be deceived? (Gioia, 755). It seems to me that Gimpel finally is building his life upon the rock of God’s salvation. I do not think, however, that Gimpel has come to a real understanding of God’s plan of salvation through Christ. There is hope at the end of this story. Gimpel believes in heaven and not in the world, and that realization is the closest he has ever come in his life to not being a fool. Everyone has a story to tell; some are exciting, some boring, and some are tragic. Isaac Bashevis Singer was a man whose life experiences gave him a story to tell.

    Through novels, short stories, and even children‘s books he expressed the deep sadness in losing one‘s identity and the importance of heritage. To abandon one‘s heritage is to abandon one‘s self because the two are inseparable. Through the comparison in Gimpel the Fool between the effects of the turmoil in Singer‘s country to Gimpel‘s ostracized life, his orphaned past, and his faith, it is evident Isaac Singer saw the necessity of keeping one‘s faith in the midst of evil in order to preserve one‘s identity. ?Contemnit procellas? is the motto of Warsaw, Poland.

    It is the capital city, and one to be reckoned with. The phrase means, ?It defies the storms,? and that is indeed what the city has done. Time and time again the city has seen massacres and war; and yet, since the end of the fourteenth century to present date the city has remained intact. Even after the city was burned and the buildings demolished, it emerged from the ashes and reclaimed its place as the capital of Poland (Safra 696). A city such as this, with an incredible history and a beautiful motto, would make a people proud of where they came from. Isaac Bashevis Singer was no different.

    His departure from his home in 1935 was in no way an abandonment of his heritage. He lived in New York and worked for the Jewish Daily Forward, which was a Yiddish Newspaper through which he published many short stories and wrote under the pseudo name ?Warshofsky? (Safra 833). Moving to the States did not cause Singer to lose sight of his past. His writings are filled with the history of Yiddish Poland often portraying the hero in a ghetto setting, including, ?their traditional faith and folkways, their daily village life, and their mysticism? (Hart 609). His characters were ones who defied the storm.

    In the short story Gimpel the Fool, the main character is a man who lived in a Jewish ghetto in Poland. From his days in school to his days as an old man, those around him abused the trust he had in the words of others. When he was in school the other children ?laughed and hee-hawed? at him (Singer 745). The townspeople considered him a fool, his wife disregarded him Fiction Essays 83 through constant affairs, and in the end he was alone. It was when his wife was on her deathbed she confessed to him, ? I want to go clean to my Maker, and so I have to tell you that the children are not yours? (Singer 753).

    He let the insults and abuse pass and he accepted the way people took advantage of his gullibility. This abuse in Gimpel‘s life reflects the ostracism the Jews experienced throughout their heritage. Singer was raised Jewish and went to seminary for a year; he knew the history of the Jews. Throughout their history they went through times of oppression and slavery. They were taken from their homes and their land was stolen. The Jewish people have been exiled many times and have been heavily persecuted throughout the generations. The history of the Jews has shown that they live in community with each other.

    Warsaw was a ghetto in Poland with a strong Jewish influence and at the beginning of the twentieth century the population was roughly fifty percent Yiddish speaking Jews. They led a religiously and politically free life with a Yiddish press, theatre, and Jewish schools (Safra 698). In this community they were free to live by their faith in a safe and un-persecuted environment. Unfortunately, the safe and free life Singer knew came to a violent close. In 1943, the German army attacked Warsaw and thousands of people were being shipped to the gas chambers at Treblinka (Safra 698).

    During the Holocaust, the Jewish people were the main target of the Nazi regime. They were once again exiled for no fault of their own and for seemingly no reason. The connection between Gimpel and the Jews would have been clear to the Yiddish audience. Singer portrayed the main character as an ostracized man in order to connect his audience with the story. Gimpel may have been set apart from his community as the village fool, but he did not let the abuse change his character. He did not let his circumstances determine who he was; who he was determined how he handled his circumstances.

    In the beginning, Gimpel admitted he was no weakling and that he could defend himself, but he was ?not really a slugger by nature? and to fight back would go against his character (Singer 745). His optimism persisted throughout the storms of his life. Gimpel kept true to the man he was and did not concede to evil that surrounded him to escape his ostracism. Singer did not want to see his people give up on their identity and fall prey to the societal expectations of a new community that formed after the destruction of WWII.

    The forces that crumbled the walls of Warsaw also broke the spirits of the people. Fiction Essays 84 The Warsaw ghetto was destroyed and burned at the end of the war (Safra 696). Structurally it would be rebuilt, but life would never be the same. Warsaw was surrounded by evil, and the people who survived the horrific events of the Holocaust were deeply affected. Singer saw the community where he was raised give up on its identity. He not only wanted to see the city of Warsaw defy the storm, he wanted to see the people of the city defy the storm as well.

    He desired for them the life they once led; but tragically, the life they once led was out of reach due to the war that left them homeless and without family. Several times Gimpel referred to himself as an orphan, and Elka did as well. Before he married her he asked her if she truly was a virgin and he said, ?Don‘t be deceitful with me, for I‘m an orphan,? to which she immediately replied, ?I am an orphan myself? (Singer 747). Many people had hurt Gimpel, even the people he should have been able to trust. As a result he saw himself as an orphan.

    He was teased since the time he was a child; by his peers at school, the women in the bakery, and even the rabbi‘s daughter took advantage of him. He had every right to be bitter in his life, which seemed to be expendable to everyone he had ever known. But in the end, his character was not overcome by his orphaned life. It is no wonder why the idea of being an orphan was prevalent in Gimpel the Fool. The Yiddish Jews would have identified with feelings of disconnect. To live through the Holocaust would have had an affect on the spiritual state of the global Jewish community.

    They undoubtedly felt abandoned by their God. When Gimpel had the conversation with the Spirit of Evil, the spirit told him there was no new world, and ?there [was] no God either? (Singer 754). This ?Spirit of Evil? was the spiritual climate in Europe during World War II, telling the Jews that in a world filled with evil, hatred, and intense persecution, they were alone. The conversation with the spirit convinced Gimpel that he was alone beyond his relationships. The spirit attacked his faith and convinced him that not only was he an orphan, but his faith, what he had clung to, was meaningless as well. A thick mire? was all there was (Singer 754). Gimpel lost his faith and as a result he lost himself. This is clear when for the first time he decides to act evilly and ?[he] let [him]self be persuaded? to ruin the bread. (Singer 754). The decision of his faith was the turning point for Gimpel‘s life. The Holocaust was a turning point for many Jews and it came down to one question: Could there be a God in the midst of a world so evil? Fiction Essays 85 The story did not end in this feeling of hopelessness.

    Gimpel stumbled and repaid all the evil poured out on him by ruining the dough, but the night he ruined the bread he had a dream about Elka. She told Gimpel she had only deceived herself and was paying for it. It was just as the rabbi had said, ?for he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses Paradise himself? (Singer 746). It was after this dream Gimpel truly decided who he would be and what he believed in matters of God. The next day, he immediately buried the bread and left Frampol free of guilt. His integrity prevailed and he did not change to fit those around him.

    He was given the choice to retaliate, but instead, he left knowing that it is not the facts of the events that necessarily mattered, but the affect those events had on the hearts and minds of people (James 2160). He met many people, sat at many tables, and heard many more lies. He may have seemed a fool to those that surrounded him, but when he was old and white he knew he had led a faithful life worthy of eternity (Singer 754). The story is about faith in personal identity and in whom one believes. Faith in spite of feeling utterly alone and abandoned will bring contentment just as it did for Gimpel.

    He even remembered Elka in a positive light; when he dreamed of her, her ?face [was] shining and her eyes [were] as radiant as the eyes of a saint? (Singer 755). He refused to become like those of the town, to entertain evil, and as his reward he lived with utter peace of mind (Goring 297). At the end of his life he considered the world in which he lived to be ?once removed from the true world,? which was free from complication, ridicule, and deception, and where ?God be praised: there even Gimpel [could not] be deceived? (Singer 755).

    This life is not the end, so ?better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil? (Singer 746). Because Gimpel remained faithful he was able to look at death with joy. Singer wrote to his audience to encourage the faith of his fellow Jews. It pained Singer to see his heritage back down and submit to the fear evoked by war and to lose the very essence of who they were due to the cultural expectations of the war-torn country. He saw the disintegration of language and close-knit communities for common city life as an act of surrender (Safra 833).

    This is why Singer continued writing in Yiddish even after many years in the States. He never forgot where he came from, and the purpose of his writing was to remind the Yiddish people where they had come from, to defy the storm, and take back their identity. They were still a united people in a world of more than mire. Fiction Essays 86 When the people of Warsaw lost their faith, they lost their identity and that is what made them orphans; not the tragedy caused by the fools that surrounded them. They were not abandoned, but they did abandoned themselves.

    Yet even as Gimpel temporarily lost who he was, hope was not lost, he turned back to his true identity and found the faith he once had. Gimpel did not stay in Frampol; he was able to be himself despite location and the Yiddish Jews could do the same. Singer believed in the possibilities of maintaining one‘s identity while also residing at an alternate address. He loved his heritage and his people and he faithfully wrote for them until the day he died, always reminding them they could defy the storm.

    Gimpel the Fool Follows the Archetype Well. (2017, Feb 25). Retrieved from

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