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Gimpel the Fool
In his short story "Gimpel the Fool," Isaac Beshevis Singer uses the character of Gimpel to demonstrate a spiritual awareness that stems from contentment, rather than intellect. In the story, Gimpel elucidates a Kabbalistic awareness of reality which guides him through life even when everyone around him is dishonest and ill-intentioned, and after nearly every instance of Gimpel dealing with a problem, he grants a small proverb or summation of the particular spiritual wisdom which carried him through the resolution or avoidance of that problem. Although Gimpel the Fool is not nearly as foolish as his neighbors believe, he does have overly simplified thought processes, but the story shows that rather than constraining Gimpel and his happiness through imbecilic mishaps or mistakes, instead Gimpel's simplified thought patterns endow him with a transcendent peace which allows Gimpel to carry on through the various minor injustices done to him.…
Singer, Isaac. Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1957. 3-22. Print.
Gimpel the Fool
In Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Gimpel the Fool," the character of the title has been given the nickname of fool by the people in his village because of his naivety. hen someone tells him a lie, he believes them and does not doubt that what they say is the very truth, no matter how many times he has been deceived in the past. In general, the majority of the townspeople enjoy mocking Gimpel, lying to him, and making him seem the foolish man of his adjectival nickname. The question then becomes whether or not Gimpel is truly a fool which, the answer to which, the writer makes it clear is no. Gimpel himself is not a fool, but he is surrounded by them and only be allowing them call him a fool and use him for their own amusement does Gimpel prove that he is truly…
Singer, Isaac Bashevis. "Gimpel the Fool." Gimpel the Fool and Other Stories. 1953. Print.
Gimpel seems to have known that since he was a child and chose the path of righteousness and truth over social status. He never did care to be accepted by people who got pleasure out of hurting or deceiving others. When the Spirit of Evil visits him Gimpel is well able to resist being lured into indignancy because of his habit of believing, of faith.
Moreover, Gimpel emerges from the shocking realization that his wife betrayed him as an even wiser man than before. Whereas he trusted blindly at first, in the end, he realizes that "there were really no lies," (p. 20). In other words, life is not as black-and-white as people prefer to believe. Gimpel's belief in God remains so solid throughout his life that forgiveness comes surprisingly easily to him. He does not become bogged down by resentment or remorse and cultivates only love and compassion. Gimpel…
Rather than grow upset or angry or feel sorry for himself, Gimpel cultivated a persona that ironically had everyone else in the town looking like fools. While Gimpel knew what the others were up to, they did not realize how wise Gimpel actually was. Gimpel was aware throughout his life that people were playing jokes on him and therefore he never really was taken in; he only played the fool because he realized that was what the others wanted, in their petty and puerile approach to life.
Gimpel, on the other hand, was easygoing. He did not let life get him down, even when others teased and taunted him. Whereas most people would have developed psychological defense mechanisms to protect against social anxiety and cruelty, Gimpel accepted his position in the community and his status as the fool. Gimpel fooled everyone else and therefore emerges as the wisest man in…
Just as "easy-going" is Gimpel's defining characteristic, his marriage to Elka is his defining relationship. Throughout their twenty years together, Elka cheats on Gimpel numerous times, with many different men -- including his own trusted apprentice. Gimpel allows himself to be convinced that this is not really occurring, however, just as he allows himself to believe that the young son she had prior to their marriage was actually her brother (he eventually refers to the character simply as "her brother"). Through it all, however, Gimpel manages to have a family of children that he loves completely and in unadulterated totality, even after Elka tells him that they are not his (one of the few instances in the tale in which Gimpel acts with disbelief). While most men in his situation would have become bitter, left their families, and grown both angry and jaded -- and with good reason -- Gimpel's…
(Singer Centennial, 2004)
Singer's family was quite poor, despite its religiously and socially prominent status. He later said that his early life was a constant education in the rough texture of humanity, as well as the struggle of common Jews. Gimpel, for instance, is "a gullible man who responds to a lifetime of betrayal, heckling, and deception with childlike acceptance and complete faith." "Though aware of his own suffering," Gimpel "is never cynical or resentful. No matter what mishap may befall him, "he retains a steadfast belief in human goodness. He accepts life as it unfolds, with all its paradoxes, "even enduring the constant and flagrant infidelities" of his wife. "Her deathbed confession that none of her children were fathered by him does not alter his love for the children. Gimpel is able to resist the Devil's temptations to take revenge against his deceivers only after Elka's ghost materializes, urging…
Isaac Bashevis Singer: Biography" Nobel Prize.org. 4 Oct. 2004. http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1978/singer-bio.html
Isaac Bashevis Singer: Life and Works." Singer Centennial. 2000. 4 Oct. 2004. http://www.ibsinger100.org/life/1/
Saltzman, Arthur M. "Singer, Isaac Bashevis." World Book Online Reference Center. 2004. World Book, Inc. 4 Oct. 2004. http://www.aolsvc.worldbook.aol.com/wb/Article?id=ar511638.
Britannica.com, 1997. 4 Oct. 2004. http://www.britannica.com/nobel/micro/733_44.html
Both have in their own way gone against the norm. When Babli, embittered by the men in her life, and after losing hope of ever having the man she loves decides to have a baby alone, she breaks her fathers will. For in a traditional Hindu family the girl accepts the match set up by the father, but here, we read how she chooses her mate, loses him and then goes against her own values to have a child. it's the ultimate rebellion from the conventional ways and undermines the very conception of hindu family values as understood by the traditional Indians, and hence creates a conflict of conventional and modern ways and starts the debate of whether second and third generation immigrants will ever completely follow their own cultures as set forth by their parents.
5. The Gold-Legged Frog by Khamsing Srinawk
Passage: "You sure are lucky,' the words…
And, if one flees historical reality, then, is it not futile in that eventually it will catch up with us? As a "guest" of this world, then, what is the basic responsibility we have towards humanity? Daru chooses an isolated and ascetic life -- he flees society, but society catches up with him, and it is his decision that allows him to become -- more human. Of true importance in this work is that the original title in French, L'hote means two things -- the guest, or the host. Thus, the title refers to the struggle of both the prisoner and the schoolmaster; giving the reader a moral guide that is less than logical, but historically practical (Camus, 2000).
Gimpel the Fool is a Yiddish tale set down by Isaac Singer, and translated into English in 1953. In essence, it is representative of much of the Judaic culture -- the…
Camus, A. (2000). The Guest. In Y. a. Cummings, The Terrible Power of A Minor Guilt (pp. 41-56). Syaracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Pinker, S. (1989). Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Roochnik, D. (2004). Retrieving the Ancients: An Introduction to Greek Philosophy.
New York: Wiley-Blackwell.