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Written by Micola Magdalena
“The God that feeds the worms under the stone, and the fishes in the sea, will he not feed us?”
Reb Smolinsky is an out of place character in the book because while he doesn’t want to do any work, he still wants to become rich and live a comfortable life. Reb believes with stubbornness that because he is faithful, God will reward him with goods and wealth so he doesn’t consider it necessary to work. Despite this, he still puts a great amount of pressure on his daughters and wife to earn for him enough money as to make sure that he can continue living in the same way as before.
“women get into heaven because they were the wives and daughters of men. Women had no brains for the study of God’s Torah, but they could be the servants of men who studied the Torah.”
Reb Smolinsky considers himself superior for the simple fact that he is a male. He sees his wife and his daughters as depending on him and as having an obligation to serve him for the only reason that he is a male. Reb thinks that the salvation of his female family members depends on him so he considers himself entitled to their servitude and he sees as being his duty to just stay inside and do nothing. The quote from above is important because it doesn’t only shows how Reb sees women but portrays the way the Jewish community saw women in general and what roles the women were given.
I know I’m a fool. But I cannot help it. I haven’t the courage to live for myself. My own life is knocked out of me. No wonder Father called me the burden bearer.
Bessie is a dreamer who falls in love with Berel but because her father doesn’t approve of the relationship, they have to rethink their future together. Berel proposes to her that they should run away together and marry in secret but Bessie refuses, telling him that she can’t go over her father’s wishes. Even though she knows she will never be able to be happy at home, Bessie refuses to not listen to her father. Instead, she sacrifices willingly her happiness for the sake of making her father happy.
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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.