Identify five descriptive details in "Gimpel the Fool" that enhance the realism of the story.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first time the other children fool Gimpel, telling him that the rabbi's wife is pregnant, they add to his confusion by cramming goat droppings into his hand. These, he says, are a fool's substitute for the raisins usually given to pregnant women. This incident occurs in the first paragraph and not only enhances the realism of the children's cruel deception but sets the tone for much of what is to come.

When Gimpel enters Elka's house, it is described with realistic detail, including the washing strung up across the room and the worn hand-me-down plush gown she wears. These mundane matters provide a realistic background to her rough treatment of Gimpel and later to her sulphuric temper and her infidelity. There are realistic details too in the gifts of bread with which he tries to placate her: a white loaf and a dark one, poppyseed rolls, and macaroons.

One of the most striking pieces of realism juxtaposed with fantasy is the way in which Gimpel treats the devil, asking him sarcastically "What should I be doing? Eating kreplach?" when first questioned and finally tumbling off the flour-sacks in the attempt to grab Satan by the tail.

Finally, before he departs from his home, Gimpel takes his prayer shawl in one hand and kisses the mezuzah (a scroll with verses from the Torah). This shows his habit of devout behavior even after he has trafficked with the devil.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial