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Poor Gimpel; everyday life is not easy for the everyday bread maker. Every day he is the target of jokes and pranks from the townspeople, some of which are really cruel. I sympathize with poor Gimpel; I remember how it felt getting bullied and mistreated like Gimpel. I know how it felt to be mistreated in such a way. Later on, he is betrayed by his own wife, Elka for numerous infidelities. Just because Gimpel lets all the townspeople screw around with him and Elka lie to him constantly, does that really make him a fool? Is Gimpel really any bit dopey, incompetent, or lack moral thought? Singer portrays Gimpel as a fool in his story, “Gimpel the Fool,” but he is truly not because he shows self-awareness, true feelings, and even wisdom.
Does somebody who is fully aware of his surroundings and has an understanding of what is going on around him, make him a fool? Showing self-awareness does not make Gimpel a fool because he is able to recognize himself individually from others surrounding his environment. Gimpel shows this throughout the story; by explaining how he is aware that he is being pranked by the townspeople. “And I like golem believed everyone” (1356). Gimpel shows understanding that he is being pranked and is able to convince everyone that he does in fact believe them. “Second I had to believe when the whole town came down on me! If I ever dared to say, “Ah, you’re kidding!” there was trouble. People got angry. “What do you mean! You want to call everyone a liar?” (1356). Gimpel is also aware that if he was to rebuff anything he was told in any way, people would scold him. He feels he had no other choice to play along and believe every word he is told, much rather than face any kind of consequence. Gimpel avoids this at all costs. He showed us that he carefully assessed the situation and knew exactly how to handle it. He played along with all the tricks he was told. Just like Gimpel, I would sometimes allow people to tell me whatever they wanted and pretend to agree in hopes that they would just back down and stop. I knew if I argued, I only would create a scene. So I simply just played along, and never once felt like a fool for doing it. This is exactly what Gimpel thinks.
Singer indicates that Gimpel expresses his true feelings, which is way beyond the expectations of a fool. Showing no emotion for loved ones or secretly hiding feelings is a real fool. Furthermore, what makes someone far from a fool is having a big enough heart to exhibit love for children, whether they be his own or not. Seventeen weeks after their marriage, Elka had a child and insisted that it was Gimpel’s, which he at first refused to believe, but later, “he discovered that he loves the child and the child loves him.” (Geimer, par 3). He may not have fathered any of the children, but he was a loving father-like figure and raised them like they were his own. There are men in real life like Gimpel, who get into relationships, or even marry women who have already had children from previous relationships or marriages. Although the men were aware of their lover’s actual past, unlike Gimpel, but both Gimpel and men in real life show love to them and are proud to call them their children, and support them by working long hours whether or not they knew they weren’t the biological father, because men like Gimpel have a big heart. Now what scenarios here make man a real fool? How about somebody who just abandons those kinds of responsibilities and wants nothing to do with children, whether they be his or not? Or even worse, someone who is cruel enough to abuse children? We all have heard plenty of stories on the news where men are arrested and face trial for abuse, sexual assaults, or murder of their girlfriend’s child. Besides making him a coward, that truly makes him a fool. Gimpel clearly is not that kind of person. Instead he is a loving father, even though he is not actually the father. It shows biological or not, true men love and support children. Gimpel is a true man, and a true man is not a fool.
Gimpel also tries to show his true feelings for Elka when they are married. In a marriage, you two vow to love each other till death do you part, but obviously Gimpel and Elka’s marriage did not go that way. Gimpel loves his wife, or at the very least makes an effort to, despite the number of blows Elka gives him throughout the story. “His desire to indulge her, his outpouring of affection, which he obviously has an immense store and can which he can afford to expand unreturned, makes him reluctant to deprive himself of the happiness of her prescence-” (Goonetilleke, par 6). Even before being officially married, Elka first deceived him about her virginity. When he found Elka was, “Both a widow and divorced (1357),” he illustrates his feelings by saying, “It was a black moment for me.” He shows that clearly it was devastating for him to find out his new wife was not a virgin after all. But it does not end there. Up until her death, throughout most of their 20 year marriage, Elka committed numerous infidelities and gave birth to six children, none of which Gimpel fathers. She was able to manipulate Gimpel into thinking he was the father, despite no intimacy between them.
There was always some excuse each time Gimpel attempted to make his way to the bed. Elka always claimed to have something wrong, being a headache or her monthly. One night, everything changed when Gimpel comes home after the oven burst at the bakery and explains, “I went up to the bed and things suddenly turned black.” Next to Elka lay a man’s form. Another in my place would have made an uproar, enough noise to rouse the whole town – (1359).” Gimpel finds out that Elka betrayed him. It must have been devastating to come home and find your wife sleeping with another man, and would walk on her a second time also. What is even more cruel, is that Elka denies everything. It does not even matter that Gimpel clearly saw with his own eyes what Elka was doing. Regardless of following the rabbi’s advice to divorce her, he does not, and he even ends up forgiving Elka on her death bed when she finally confessed everything and begged Gimpel for forgiveness. After her death, he did have his period of mourning, which illustrates he really did love Elka despite her betrayal. Gimpel is definitely not a fool for being honest with his feelings.
Gimpel shows his wisdom despite no matter how much Singer, the townspeople and Elka portray him as a fool. “His wisdom lies in his forethought and his realistic acceptance of the world as it is” (Goonetilleke, par 3). Showing wisdom is showing your understanding and sharing your knowledge to those around you in any way possible. A fool completely misses that concept. Gimpel first shows his wisdom by knowing he is better off believing what he is told, much rather than raise conflict for trying to disregard everything. “In the first place, everything is possible” (1356). It is towards near the end of the story where his wisdom matters the most. One night after Elka’s death, the Spirit of Evil comes and tells Gimpel to get revenge on the townspeople for all those years of deception. How to go about it? “Accumulate a bucket of urine every day and night and pour it into the dough. Let the sages of Frampol eat filth (1363).” Now he almost went through with it, but one night he has an epiphany when his late wife Elka berates him for what he is about to do, and informs him that all wrong she had done in her life, she really only wronged herself. So if he carries out revenge, Gimpel is really only going to wrong himself too, so Gimpel has come to his senses and disposes of the bread. From there, and after leaving Frampol, his knowledge only blossoms more and later on as he gets older he has grown a full understanding of life.
Gimpel, the not so fool after all, shows who he really is by showing his self-awareness by understanding everything around him and coming to terms and accepts all the came his way. He was not afraid to exhibit true feelings. From loving children you that were not biologically yours, to forgiving years of deception from a spouse expresses a significant stand. All that came his way is the reason for his wisdom. Without it, it never would have made Gimpel who he truly is, and gain such an outstanding perception on life.
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