The Magic Barrel-Literary Analysis Essay

All writers use literary terms to create a story. Bernard Malamud, the writer of The Magic Barrel, includes many literary elements. Character and characterization are definitely important elements in the short story. This essay will describe how Bernard Malamud creates the character of Leo Finkle through the methods of characterization. In uptown New York lived Leo Finkle, a rabbinical student. Leo was advised by an acquaintance that he would find it easier to win a congregation if he were married. Leo, not having time for a social life, discovered a marriage broker in the Forward.

He decided to call the man for help. When the broker, Pinye Salzman, arrived at his house one night, they began talking and considering Leo’s options. The first woman that Leo decided to date was a woman by the name of Lily Hirschorn. When they met they began talking and Leo quickly realized that this woman was not for him. He was very upset with Salzman, so he did not call him again. Salzman did not take no for an answer and once again appeared at Leo’s home. This time he had pictures with him. Leo quickly kicked him out and for weeks the envelope sat on the table collecting dust.

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One day Leo’s curiosity got the best of him, he opened the envelope revealing the pictures of the women. He didn’t like any of them for lack of life and excitement in their faces. When he was about to give up, he noticed a picture he didn’t see before, a beautiful mysterious woman. He knew immediately that this was the woman for him. He quickly found the brokers address and went to his home. Salzman was not there, so Leo sadly went home. As he arrived at his home he found Salzman at his doorstep. Leo showed the broker the picture of the woman, and told him that she was the girl for him.

Salzman told him that picture was a mistake and shouldn’t have been in there, he quickly left. Leo followed him insisting to meet the woman. The broker said that she was a bad woman and is not for Leo. Leo decided that he could help her become a better person, thus making Salzman agree to the arrangement. Leo was informed by a letter to meet the woman, Stella, on a certain corner. He went to meet the young lady and discovered she was exactly how he had pictured her. Leo had finally met the woman he would marry. The character Leo Finkle is revealed through direct characterization.

Direct characterization is when a writer tells us directly what the character’s personality is like. The author, Bernard Malamud, tells readers directly who Leo Finkle is. The author tells readers that Leo is a smart, dedicated person. He is studying to become a rabbi. He has no time for a social life and is very busy with his schooling. The author tells us exactly who Leo is, making him a great example of direct characterization. Leo Finkle is also revealed through indirect characterization. Indirect characterization is when the author gives you clues to infer what the character’s personality is like.

The reader must use their own judgment to discover the character’s personality. Leo Finkle is revealed through indirect characterization as he makes the decision of which woman to marry. Leo is very picky about who he wants to marry, telling readers that he is very particular and thinks highly of himself. When Leo discovers the picture of the woman he goes after what he wants and doesn’t give up until he gets it. This tells readers that Leo is a dedicated and ambitious person. In order for the reader to know of these personality traits they must use their own judgment to infer the unidentified personality of Leo Finkle.

This is a good example of indirect characterization. The author portrays Leo Finkle as a dynamic character. A dynamic character is a character that changes in some important way as a result of the story’s actions. In this short story, Leo changes a lot because of the plot of the story. In the beginning of the story, Leo is completely dedicated to and serious about school and becoming a rabbi. Throughout this story as he meets women and discovers the one he wants to marry, he becomes more motivated to have a social life. He becomes a lot more ambitious about getting married and starting a life with a woman.

Leo changes because of the introduction of women as the plot of the story goes on, making him a good example of a dynamic character. In the short story The Magic Barrel, the author Bernard Malamud, created the character of Leo Finkle using the methods of writing. Leo Finkle is portrayed in this short story as a dynamic character. He is revealed through direct and indirect characterization. The author portrays Leo Finkle very well through the methods of characterization. As you can see, these methods are crucial in creating each character in a story.

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