Sholom Aleichem Short Fiction Analysis
It is nearly impossible to summarize the plot of a Sholom Aleichem story. There is no linear, causally enchained sequence in his fiction. The type of plot to which readers have become accustomed in Western fiction—that which moves through clearly defined stages to a predetermined end—is not readily found in Aleichem’s work. The reason for this lies in the milieu which is embodied there. Logic and the laws of cause and effect require a stable, orderly world to function. The world of the Russian pale at the close of the nineteenth century was a turbulent chaos of pogroms, revolution, wars, cholera epidemics, starvation, overcrowding, and perpetual hunger.
Except for the few years when he was able to be a patron of letters and to pay his fellow Yiddish writers well for their contributions to his annual, in which he attempted to establish a canon, Aleichem himself was continually in debt. His prodigious output was due to his need to provide for his many dependents. These pressures, the outward instability, and the haste in which he was forced to compose contributed to the absurdist, surrealistic situations he depicted. His plots, rather than moving from explication to complication to resolution, begin in complication and accumulate further complications with ever-increasing momentum to the pitch of madness and then abruptly stop without having been resolved; the story is simply interrupted. One can say that a typical Aleichem plot is a succession of...
(The entire section is 1673 words.)
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