In Call it Sleep, do Albert and Genya get divorced?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although their marriage is troubled, Albert and Genya do not divorce in the course of the novel. Albert suspects that Genya had an affair years ago with a non-Jewish man, and that their son David might be the illegitimate son of that affair. Throughout the book, Albert becomes more and more angry about his life and the lies he is forced to tell; he knew, more-or-less, that he was allowed to marry Genya because of his own troubles back in their home country, the persistent story that he purposefully allowed his own abusive father to die rather than save him. However, even when they confront each other about the issues, prompted by David's troubles, they fight but do not divorce:

"...when you came across, the doctors were too knowing. Fool your husband, they said. You were frightened. Seventeen months were too few for one so grown. Twenty-one then! Twenty-one they might believe, and twenty-one of course I thought he was... an organist, eh? A goy, God help you! Ah! It's clear!"
(Roth, Call it Sleep)

Albert, speaking here, shows that he is aware that David was too far grown to have been his own son. As he has taken out his anger on his family all through the book, there is little sympathy for him; Genya is similarly incapable of a convincing argument. In the end, both are brought together, if only temporarily, by their concern for David's health.

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Call It Sleep

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