A Simple Story

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The narrator, wise and tolerant in regard to the foibles of men and women in love, tells a simple tale that grows ever more complex and meaningful. He begins with the fortunes of Blume Nacht, an attractive, clever, and industrious young woman who, as a penniless orphan, arrives at her cousin’s home in Galacia. Baruch Meir Hurvitz and his shrewd wife, Tsirl, look the girl over and decide that she might well serve as a maid in the household to earn her modest care, but their only son Hirshl looks at the girl with deeper appreciation. In time, he falls in love with her, but--too much the obedient son, and too inexperienced in the ways of the world to approach Blume--he allows fate to take control of his romance. The matchmaker Yona Toyber works out for the young man a much more promising match: with Mina Ziemlich, from the nearby village of Malikrowik.

Only after his marriage does Hirshl show signs of agitation that swell into revolt against the conventions of married life and finally turns to depression and near-madness. Desperate with his unrequited love for Blume, Hirshl strays from his home, suffers and emotional breakdown in the forest, and is placed in the wise Dr. Langsam’s sanatorium. There, allowed time for sleep and the renovation of his frayed nerves, he regains his sanity. Indeed, he recovers more than his wits: He returns home to his wife and to his vocation as shopkeeper with a new vigor. Happy with his wife and children, content with his...

(The entire section is 437 words.)