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Gimpel The Fool Essay

1182 words - 5 pages

Gimpel The Fool by Isaac Bashevis SingerIsaac Bashevis Singer's "Gimpel The Fool" is about an orphan who goes through life being the source of everyone's laughter. The story raises the question of wisdom versus foolishness. While the town's people considered Gimpel a fool, he believed he was wise.The people of the town believed Gimpel to be a fool and simpleton. Gimpel had several names given him such as "imbecile, donkey, flax-head, dope, glump, ninny, and fool."(79) All the names given him by his peers reflected their image of him. It was an image of being slow in the head and gullible. Gimpel could not turn around without someone playing a joke on him. One day, as he came home from school, someone barked like a dog. Gimpel ran in fright, not wanting to be bitten. They would tell him "Gimpel, the moon fell down in Turbeen"; "Gimpel, little Hodel Furpiece found a treasure behind the bath house"(79). As improbable as the stories were, he always fell for them. Tired of being everyone's fool, Gimpel considered leaving town. They convinced him to stay and marry Elka, the local town whore. Although he knew "she was no chaste maiden" they told him she was a "virgin pure"(80). Elka had a bastard child but they convinced him the child was her little brother. She limped, but that was on purpose. Gimpel the fool, they could convince him of anything.Gimpel is a passive and loving man by nature. When they made him a fool, Gimpel "let it pass,"(79) thinking, "what was I to do?" Gimpel could play the fool or confront them. However, Gimpel believed the latter would cause "the whole town to come down on me!"(79) He did not want conflict so he played the fool. The rabbi's daughter told him the law requires one to kiss the wall after visiting the rabbi. He thought, "Well, there didn't seem to be any harm in it"(80). So, Gimpel kissed the wall, and she laughed. Gimpel loved his wife so much that he endured all Elka's abuse saying, "another man in my place would have taken French leave and disappeared"(83). Gimpel just "couldn't get enough of her"(82); He "adored every word"(82). Seventeen weeks after the wedding, Elka gave birth to a son. Although he knew the child was not his, he loved him as if he were. When the second child was born, he had not even seen Elka in nine months, but he loved her enough to bless her and the child. The children that were born of Elka, six in all, were clearly not Gimpel's, but he loved them as if they were. Years after Elk's death, even after the way she abused and cheated him, Gimpel would weep, thinking of Elka, "Let me be with you." Perhaps his love was one only an orphan could understand, an orphan without a family of his own.Although Gimpel played the part of the fool, he considered himself to be the contrary; Because of his faith, he was in his eyes wise. Gimpel followed the teachings of his religion and the writings of wise men. He knew the people of the town were playing jokes on him, but it was written in the Wisdom of the...

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