MJL Short Paper - Wyatt McCallum Professor Gealy Modern...

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Wyatt McCallum Professor Gealy Modern Jewish Literature October 21, 2011 Believing in Faith In all of the short stories we have read for this class thus far, the importance of faith is touched upon by each of the authors. Faith also plays a major role in “Gimpel the Fool” and “Spinoza of Market Street”, both written by I.B Singer. At first glance, these stories seem nothing alike. The main characters contrast one another. One believes in humanity, and the other in reason, placing them at opposite ends of the spectrum. However, they both share a belief in faith. Through them, Singer shows the importance of faith by showing us that to be a righteous Jew, you must have faith in God and all of his creations. The differences between the two stories are far more readily apparent, however. The most obvious discrepancy is in the main characters. One spends his days baking bread, while the other is a scholar of philosophical works. But apart from the superficial differences, these characters differ mainly in their approach to life. One of them embraces humanity and believes everything that he told by everyone. Dr. Fichelson instead has distrust for everything human, decrying the young Jews of the modern world an “ignorant rabble intent on destroying society, society without which no reasonable existence was possible,” (Singer 84). Gimpel is forever the optimist, and ignores all the tricks the townsfolk and his wife play on him. Not once does he bitterly lash out against society for perpetuating the wrong way of acting or thinking as Dr. Fichelson does. Therefore, Gimpel and Dr. Fichelson represent two sides of a coin, with Gimpel always seeing the glass half-full while Dr. Fichelson sees a glass overrun with anarchy. Still, their faith is what drives them through life, although their respective faiths are different.
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From there on, the focus of the stories also varies. “Gimpel the Fool” focuses on how Gimpel responds to the hardships he faces from society due to his ever-trusting nature. It’s an event driven story, moving from problems he faced as boy when the townsfolk tricked him to more serious adult matters when his wife is obviously committing adultery. In contrast, while Dr. Fichelson’s marriage to Black Dobbe is the major turning point of “Spinoza of Market Street”, the story focuses instead on Dr. Fichelson’s life, both past and present, and his changed attitude over the course of the story. In this way, “Gimpel the Fool” focuses on what readers can learn from the reactions of a static character to the environment, while “Spinoza of Market Street”
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2012 for the course COMP LIT 200 taught by Professor Marshagealy during the Fall '11 term at Northwestern.

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MJL Short Paper - Wyatt McCallum Professor Gealy Modern...

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