Gimpel The Fool Essay

Gimpel is an orphan being raised by a grandfather who is “already bent to the grave,” so the townspeople turn him over to a baker.In such a public occupation, nearly all the villagers have had the opportunity to fool him at least once.When the townspeople of Frampol tell Gimpel that the Czar is coming to their forlorn little village, he instantly believes it.

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Literature is full of simpletons, but Gimpel is a fool of an unusual sort.

His lack of sense does not involve hatching inane schemes or uttering nonsense.

But Singer, perhaps because he was so attuned to man's imperfections, was skeptical of their wild dreams.

The story ends with Gimpel waiting hopefully for the next world, where things will be simpler and purer and where "God be praised even Gimpel cannot be deceived."Singer often said that he and Gimpel were one and the same, which some critics considered laughable coming from the wily and sagacious Singer.

Whatever story his neighbors come up with, no matter how wildly improbable, Gimpel accepts it at face value.

"I had seven names in all: imbecile, donkey, flax-head, dope, glump, ninny and fool," says the notably self-aware Gimpel.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.He does not believe her, but the next day the schoolmaster assures him that the same thing happened to Adam and Eve.Gimpel begins “to forget his sorrow” because he loves the child.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.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."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.


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