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Take Pity” is a short story written by Bernard Malamud and centers on two main characters, Eva and Rosen. As the title of the short story suggests, “pity” is the central theme. However, with regard to your question, I am not sure that it would be correct to only pity or take sides with just one of the characters. Instead, I believe that both Rosen and Eva have weight to carry on their shoulders and therefore deserve pity, at least to some extent.

Eva, for example, deserves pity because of her tragic background. She and her husband had to leave Poland and are trying to start a new life in America. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, Eva’s husband Axel suddenly dies, leaving Eva to deal with the struggling business and the children all by herself. This is also the very reason why Rosen feels pity for Eva and tries to offer her help. When Eva finally realizes the extent to which Rosen is prepared to go in order to help her—namely, taking his own life—she comes to talk to him. However, at this point Rosen does not want to speak to her anymore, and Eva has no opportunity to make up with him. This also induces sympathy in the reader, who is empathizing with Eva.

Rosen, on the other hand, also deserves empathy and pity. Despite the fact that he works in finance, he is a good-hearted person. For example, he supports Axel’s application for a loan, despite the fact that he knows full well that Axel’s business is not going to be successful. Even though it shouldn’t really matter to him, Rosen even goes as far as to advise Axel to give up his business, as he sees that Axel is heading for financial ruin. After Axel’s death, Rosen desperately tries to help Eva and her children but is unable to do so given Eva’s stubbornness and pride. This certainly makes the reader feel pity and sympathy for Rosen.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 24, 2020
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