What is it about the photograph in Salzman's envelope that Leo falls in love with in "The Magic Barrel"?  

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The photograph of Stella "carries the impression, somehow, of evil." Could it be that Leo falls in love with the impression of evil? Is so, why? This story established early on that Leo came to God "not because [he] loved him, but because [he] did not. This detail establishes Leo's lack of love for God which could explain why he immediately falls in love with "the impression, somehow, of evil." Clearly, Leo did not have a true passion for God, otherwise he would not have been so bold in telling Lily about his lack of love. Actually, the story states that Leo confessed to Lily his lack of love for God in an "unguarded moment of honesty." In other words, he was not willfully upfront with Lily. The fact that he was not deliberately honest with Lily shows he would not have revealed his sentiments toward God had he not had an "unguarded moment of honesty." Could it be that Leo loved evil more than he loved God? As scripture states, one can only be in love with one or the other. Leo states himself that he was not in love with God. This could explain why he was immediately in love with Stella for her photograph carried the "impression, somehow, of evil."