Gimpel the Fool

by

Isaac Bashevis Singer

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Four months after Gimpel and Elka’s wedding, Elka gives birth to a baby boy. This greatly angers Gimpel, as he figures that there is no way he can be the father’s child. Elka insists that the baby is just extremely premature, and she offers up, as support, a very implausible anecdote about her grandmother having borne a similarly premature child. Gimpel sees right through this. But as the days go on, she remains so adamant that she is telling the truth, that Gimpel starts to become persuaded that maybe the child really is his. He is helped by a talk with the school-master, who shares that Eve herself brought two children into the world almost immediately after conceiving them. Finally, Gimpel accepts the son as his own, and the two grow extremely close. The boy always wants to be in Gimpel’s arms, and if he is feeling unwell, Gimpel is the only one who can soothe him. Sadly, at the end of Elka’s life, she reveals that this child, along with the others, was not Gimpel’s, but the child of one of her lovers, a confession that causes Gimpel deep grief. We never learn this child’s name, but we know that it is the same as Gimpel’s deceased father.

The “Premature” Son Quotes in Gimpel the Fool

The Gimpel the Fool quotes below are all either spoken by The “Premature” Son or refer to The “Premature” Son. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Gimpel the Fool published in 1983.
Part 2 Quotes

Another in the town would have made an uproar, and enough noise to rouse the whole town, but the thought occurred to me that I might wake the child. A little thing like that--why frighten a little swallow, I thought.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka, The “Premature” Son
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

‘Enough of being a donkey,’ I said to myself. ‘Gimpel isn’t going to be a sucker all his life. There’s a limit to the foolishness even of a fool like Gimpel.’

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka, The “Premature” Son
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

A longing took me, for her and for the child. I wanted to be angry, but that’s my misfortune exactly, I don’t have it in me to be really angry.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka, The “Premature” Son
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
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The “Premature” Son Character Timeline in Gimpel the Fool

The timeline below shows where the character The “Premature” Son appears in Gimpel the Fool. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...advice, the man tells him that Eve, the first woman, gave birth to her two sons immediately after conceiving them with Adam. Gimpel decides to accept Elka’s story and love the... (full context)
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Gimpel and his new son grow extremely fond of each other. He also comes to cherish Elka, despite the fact... (full context)
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...like shouting at the pair; then he realizes that doing so would awaken his young son. Unwilling to disturb his beloved child’s peace, he simply returns to the bakery. The next... (full context)
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The Real vs. The Imaginary  Theme Icon
...obeys the Rabbi’s orders, but soon enough he begins to yearn for his wife and son. He thinks he should be angry yet finds he “do[esn’t] have it in [him] to... (full context)
Part 3
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
When Gimpel gets inside the house, his first stop is to look at the new baby , asleep in her cradle. Even though he has never met her before, he “instantly”... (full context)