Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
The only child of Reb Shmuel Leib Broder of Tzivkev, Herman studies philosophy in Warsaw. There he meets the daughter of the rich Reb Shachnah Luria, Tamara, who is studying at the Wszchnica. Despite their parents’ objections, the two marry, but they quickly begin quarreling and are separated, about to be divorced, when World War II breaks out.
During the war, Yadwiga, a Polish peasant who had worked as a maid for the Broders, hides Herman in a hayloft. At the war’s end in 1945, he learns from eyewitnesses that Tamara and their two children have been killed by the Nazis. He marries Yadwiga, and together they move to Brooklyn, close to Coney Island.
To support himself, Herman becomes a ghostwriter for Rabbi Milton Lampert, but he tells Yadwiga that he earns his money as a traveling bookseller. This lie allows him to spend nights with his mistress, Masha. Suspicious, bitter, and fearful, Masha wants Herman to divorce Yadwiga and marry her; she intends to divorce her unfaithful husband, “Doctor” Leon Tortshiner. When Masha tells Herman that she is carrying Herman’s child, he agrees to the marriage but not to the divorce.
To complicate Herman’s life further, Tamara appears in New York, the reports of her death having been premature. She was shot by the Nazis and her children were murdered, but she, like Herman and Masha, has survived. Although she has the most legitimate claim on Herman, she alone makes no demands. On the...
(The entire section is 473 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
On a summer morning, Herman Broder stirs from his troubled dreams, wondering if he is in Nazi-occupied Poland, perhaps in the hayloft where his parents’ servant girl, Yadwiga, concealed him in order to save his life. Then, fully awake, he realizes that he is in the apartment in Brooklyn that he shares with Yadwiga, whom he marries after learning of the deaths of his wife and his children.
Herman tells Yadwiga that he must make another of his overnight train trips to sell books. Actually, he remains in New York City, spending the day in the office of Rabbi Milton Lampert, for whom Herman works as a ghostwriter, and the night at the apartment of his mistress, Masha Tortshiner, and her mother, Shifrah Puah Bloch, who are also Holocaust survivors. Although Masha knows that Herman is married, her mother does not. She is determined to have Masha get a divorce from her husband, Leon, so that she can marry Herman.
One day, Shifrah Puah calls Herman’s attention to a notice in the newspaper asking him to telephone a certain number. When he makes the call, Herman finds himself speaking to the uncle of his first wife, Tamara, who, it seems, is alive and in New York. When Herman and Tamara are reunited, he is surprised to find her prettier than ever and considerably easier to get along with than she was in the past. Although Herman knows that he must choose between his two wives, he has to admit that he would like to keep them both, and the volatile...
(The entire section is 969 words.)