Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Singer’s story is a third-person narrative with almost no developed scenes and few extended passages of dialogue. It is charmingly told with utter simplicity, lending it the quality of a matter-of-fact folktale that has been accepted without question by several generations of listeners or readers. The reader never pauses to question the credibility of the tale, for its complex sexuality, even the mechanics of the sexual act between Yentl and Hadass, are never allowed to overwhelm the deceptively simple, seemingly primitive, straightforward style. As the author himself understands, androgyny can be convincing on the page, but perhaps only there. Once the characters are fleshed out, as they must be, for stage and screen, and scenes are added or expanded, an element of titillation intrudes. Singer never allows this element to intrude in the story and attempts to maintain control over this aspect of the play. It is this overt element that finally mars the film version in which he had no hand and of which he disapproves.