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Written by Micola Magdalena
Under the bed
At one point, Reb is asked to move his sacred books under the bed to make more room for the person who rented the available room in the house. After a little persuasion, Reb agrees to move his books under the bed. Reb agreeing to that is a metaphor for weakness and for his willingness to do anything just to have more money.
Metaphor for standing up against oppression
When Reb punches the collector lady, his actions are hailed as being revolutionary. Against all odds, the event made Reb more popular and made his neighbors love him and respect him, a clear contrast with the way they treated Reb and the rest of the family before. Thus, Reb punching the collector lady is seen here as a metaphor for rebelling against the oppressive society that makes life hard for the normal, hard-working class.
Metaphor for confinement
The women in the novel are oppressed both by society and by the males in their lives. They are not allowed to decide what they want to do with their lives, who they want to marry and where they want to go so in the novel there are metaphors to suggest this type of confinement. Marriage is the first metaphor used and it implies that a woman must always submit to her husband’s wishes, no matter the circumstance. The second metaphor is the small room Sara rented for herself after leaving her parents and it is used to suggest how society imposes all these limitations on women and how it stops them from reaching their potential.
In the gutter
Towards the end of the novel, Sara and Hugo stumble upon Reb in a gutter, ill and selling gum to make a living. The state in which Sara finds Reb is important because it has a metaphorical value. The gutter stands for Reb’s soul, degraded by greed and blinded by hate. Reb has to suffer because of the way his soul ended up to be and he sunk lower than anyone else. The fact that Reb is lying in the gutter thus is a metaphor for the degraded state in which Reb ended up and for his inability to become a better person.
Just like God
When Reb talks about the roles women have, he puts himself above them, saying that only men have the privilege of learning about the Torah and other sacred texts. For him, women are not worthy enough to study or to do anything else than just to work physically to provide for their men and make sure that they live comfortably. In this sense, Reb compares himself to a God who is worshiped by everyone and adored. But instead of being served by everyone, the only people willing to care for him are his family members who do it not because they want to but because they are forced to.
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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.