Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Isaac Bashevis Singer's Gimpel the Fool. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Gimpel the Fool: Introduction
Gimpel the Fool: Plot Summary
Gimpel the Fool: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Gimpel the Fool: Themes
Gimpel the Fool: Quotes
Gimpel the Fool: Characters
Gimpel the Fool: Symbols
Gimpel the Fool: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Isaac Bashevis Singer
Historical Context of Gimpel the Fool
Other Books Related to Gimpel the Fool
- Full Title: Gimpel the Fool
- When Written: 1940s
- Where Written: New York
- When Published: Originally published in Yiddish in 1945; published for the first time in English in 1953.
- Literary Period: Late Modernism
- Genre: Yiddish short story, allegorical fable, magical realism
- Setting: The town of Frampol in Poland
- Climax: After Spirit of Evil persuades Gimpel to take revenge on the people of Frampol by urinating in the bread he will sell to them, the ghost of his wife Elka comes to him in a dream and urges him not to go through with the crime, prompting him instead, when he wakes up, to bury the bread.
- Antagonist: The Spirit of Evil
- Point of View: First-Person Narrator
Extra Credit for Gimpel the Fool
A Family of Writers. Before Isaac Bashevis Singer became famous, his older brother Israel Joshua Singer, author of the novel, The Brothers Ashkenazi, was much more well-known. Singer’s older sister, Esther Kreitman, was also a novelist. Meanwhile, the offspring of both Isaac Bashevis Singer and Israel Joshua Singer include several poets, novelists, and translators.
Late-Life Vegetarianism. In his fifties, Singer became a passionate vegetarian. He believed that that “when a human kills an animal for food, he neglects his own hunger for justice” and viewed people’s mistreatment of animals as intimately connected to their cruelty to each other. His short story “The Slaughterer” follows the moral growth of a butcher who becomes horrified by the suffering of his victims.