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Written by Micola Magdalena
Living off other people
Reb Smolisnky is presented in a negative light in the novel. He is a father who refuses to work to sustain his family and expects his family to work for him instead. Ironically, instead of being grateful for the efforts put by the rest of the family to make a living, he criticizes them for not earning enough money even though he himself doesn’t earn any money at all.
Backbone of the family
While the oldest daughters and the father of the family are too busy spending their money on useless things, the youngest girl in the family is the one who takes upon herself to earn money to sustain her family. She is the one who is willing to do everything to earn some money when her family is in a tight financial situation and the situation presented is quite ironical considering how the other members of the family refuse to work and depend on the wages made by the youngest.
Not so skilled
Reb claims that women should be the ones working for their men because they lack the mental capacity to do anything else, namely to study the Torah or any other religious text. But time and time, Reb proves himself to be the fool in the novel while the women in the family are the ones who are intelligent and easy to adapt to the situation. Reb makes bad financial decisions and decides to invest money in a business doomed to fail even though he was warned by his wife not to do it. Ironically thus, Reb proves himself to be well beyond the women around him while the women distinguish themselves as being skilled businesswomen and highly intelligent.
Just as you were
After Mrs. Smolinsky dies, Reb marries with another woman from the same building where he lives with the hope that the woman will be just the same as his late wife and will provide him with the things he needs. Instead, the woman he marries proves to be just as thirty for money as Reb but without being willing to work. Ironically thus, Reb finds himself in the same position he put his late wife and his daughters before leaving him and he can experience firsthand how hard it was for his family to provide for him.
Not what she expected
Sara leaves for New York hoping to find a better life for herself. She hopes that by learning hard and making herself easy to like, she will find friends and financial prosperity. She has instead to face loneliness and her peers’ criticism because she was a young woman living alone. The situation is presented as being ironical because despite her efforts, Sara is not able completely to escape her old life and build a new for herself.
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Fania is interested in Morris Lipkin. We can infer that Bessie might be jealous.... not because Fania has a boyfriend, but because her own suitors have been rejected. Bessie is kept as hime because the family needs her.... and her paycheck.