Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
After he moved to the United States, Singer wrote a number of stories such as “Alone,” which reflect his conviction that the modern world is corrupt and doomed. Some of these stories are set in New York, others in Miami. “Alone” is particularly interesting because, although the setting is Miami Beach, instead of a Polish village, the pattern of the story is very much like that of the folkloric tales. There is a protagonist with a lesson to learn, an unwise wish that comes true, and an attack from a demon, which tests the hero’s virtue.
“Alone” is told in the first person. The narrator is a Jewish man who is spending the summer in Miami Beach, instead of in New York with his wife, because he suffers from hay fever. Tired of the noisy fellow guests in his hotel, he utters his wish: that he could be all alone in a hotel. The narrator’s wish comes true. Bankrupt, the hotel where he is staying is closed. The guests he dislikes depart, and he moves to a room in a cheap hotel not far away, where, as he wished, he is the only guest. No one is in this hotel but the hunchbacked Cuban girl at the desk and himself.
Already tired of being alone, the narrator takes a bus to the end of the line and back, musing on the landscape that he is passing, a physical and moral desert, which humankind has disguised in order to indulge its vices, including greed, promiscuity, and cruelty. Later that evening, a hurricane hits, and as it is reaching its...
(The entire section is 572 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Alexander, Edward. Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1990.
Biletzky, I. Ch. God, Jew, Satan in the Works of Isaac Bashevis-Singer. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1995.
Cohen, Susan Blacher. “The Jewish Folk Drama of Isaac Bashevis Singer.” In From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Jewish-American Stage and Screen, edited by Cohen. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.
Farrell, Grace, ed. Critical Essays on Isaac Bashevis Singer. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996.
Friedman, Lawrence S. Understanding Isaac Bashevis Singer. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988.
Hadda, Janet. Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Noiville, Florence. Isaac B. Singer: A Life. Translated by Catherine Temerson. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.
Telushkin, Dvorah. Master of Dreams: A Memoir of Isaac Bashevis Singer. New York: Morrow, 1997.