The First Seven Years

by Bernard Malamud

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When did you realize that Sobel was in love with Miriam in "The First Seven Years"?

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When the narrator points out that Miriam would read Sobel's literary commentaries "page by sanctified page, as if the word of God were inscribed on them," the implication is certainly that Miriam is perhaps in love with Sobel. We might also infer at this point that perhaps Sobel writes at such length for the benefit of Miriam, and that he, therefore, is also in love with her. This interpretation would then make sense of Sobel's otherwise inexplicable action of storming out of the shop earlier in the story, after he presumably overheard Miriam's father asking another boy to ask Miriam out.

Shortly after this moment the narrator explains how Sobel stays working for Miriam's father even though he could earn much more money elsewhere. Again this suggests that he stays because he is in love with Miriam, and wants to be close to her.

We also then hear that Sobel has stormed off before, when Miriam's father asked him not to lend so many books to Miriam. Clearly Sobel becomes upset when the closeness or frequency of his interactions with Miriam is threatened.

All of these clues appear on pages three and four of the short story.

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I certainly suspected it when Sobel quit his job after theĀ father talks to Max about going out with Miriam. I couldn't imagine why else Sobel would leave the shoemaker becauseĀ Sobel seemed so devoted to him. I felt the only answer was that Sobel loved Miriam.

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