The Magic Barrel
Who else from any Jewish – American authors can translate Yeddish for the American readers so colorfully and honestly? Who else can represent the reality of Jewish life with love and light irony? This is Bernard Malamud, who was born in family of Russian – Jewish immigrants. He found his characters in real Jewish community. That is why the tone and style of “The Magic Barrel” are so unmistakable and truthful.
Through two main characters author involves us in a specific business going on between Leo Finkle, a lonely rabbinical student, and Pinye Salzman, a matchmaker. In order to get a good congregation Leo supposed to be married. How a man, who was studying for six years and who never was in a company of woman, easily can find a wife? The same way as his parents did. He went to the matchmaker. It was not so easy for Leo to appeal to Salzman, because he hoped to find the wife by himself. He wanted to be in love before he gets married. But he resorted to help. It was a firs time when he turned his mind over. Pine Salzman, the marriage broker, represented the old generation, and respected the old Jewish tradition. Marriage is a very important part of a Jew’s life, and the family is more important than the girl herself is. He does not think about love. It is possible to imagine how Leo was disappointed when Salzmen introduced the girls to him. “Sophie P. Widow. Father promises eight thousand dollars. Has wonderful wholesale business. Also realestate.” “Lily H. Regular. Father is successful dentist thirty-five years. Interested in professional man. Wonderful opportunity.” Moreover, “She is a partikiler. She wants the best.” Leo’s interest to Lily was aroused, and he began seriously to consider calling on her. Finally they met. She provoked him to say the strange, but a very capacious and valuable phrase: “I think, that I came to God not because I loved Him, but because I did not.” But Lily didn’t dream about him, she dreamed about an invented hero. After this date he turned his mind over again. He felt that he could not love a girl. Although Leo returned to his regular routine, he was in panic and depression from one thought: nobody loves him and he does not love anybody either. There was no bride for him. Moreover, he realized “the true nature of his relationship to God, and from that it had come upon him, with shocking force, that apart from his parents, he had never loved anybody. Or perhaps it went the other way, that he did not love God so well as he might, because he had not loved man.” ” He saw himself for the first time as he truly was – unloved and loveless.” It is possible to imagine how terrible Leo suffered. He understood that he has no knowledge of himself, and “never in the Five Books and all the Commentaries – mea cupla – has the truth been revealed to him. ” He was sure that everything is gone for nothing; he stopped to believe in himself. His nerves were on edge.
In this terrible condition Leo opened the Salezman’s envelope with girl’s pictures. “Her face deeply moved him.” He was shocked. Something happened with him. His mind was turned over again. His new life began. The girl’s face was not so attractive, but he felt that he knew her for a long time. The deep strange light was coming out of her eyes. “Good”, Leo said,” Good for Leo Finkle.” ” Just her I want”, said Leo to matchmaker. It was Stella Salezman, the fallen angel. But these details did not interest him. He felt in love. He was happy and full of hopes again. He thought that even sky helped him, and he saw candles in the sky. Analyzing Leo’s fate we can see the grate power of love. It looks like God wants us to be able to love and helps us if our hearts are open for this wonderful feelings.