Gimpel the Fool

by

Isaac Bashevis Singer

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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.
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Part 1 Quotes

Everything is possible, as it is written in the Wisdom of the Fathers. I forget just how.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

To tell the truth, I knew very well that nothing of the sort had happened, but all the same, as folks were talking, I threw on my wool vest and went out. Maybe something had happened. What did I stand to lose by looking?

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Town of Frampol
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

“It is written, better to be a fool all your days than for one hour to be evil. You are not a fool. They are the fools. For he who causes his neighbor to feel shame loses Paradise himself.”

Related Characters: The Rabbi (speaker), Gimpel
Related Symbols: The Town of Frampol
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

She swore at me and cursed, and I couldn’t get enough of her. What strength she had! One of her looks could rob you of the power of speech. And her orations! Pitch and sulphur, that’s what they were full of, and yet somehow also full of charm. I adored her every word. She gave me bloody wounds though.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

I thieved because of her and swiped everything I could lay hands on: macaroons, raisins, almond cakes. I hope I may be forgiven for stealing from the Saturday pots the women left to warm in the baker’s oven.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

I’m the type that bears it and says nothing. What’s one to do? Shoulders are from God, and burdens too.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

This was how my thoughts went—there’s bound to be a slip up sometimes. You can’t live without errors. Probably that lad who was with her led her on and gave her presents and what not, and women are often long on hair and short on sense, and so he got around her.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

And then she denies it so, maybe I was only seeing things? Hallucinations do happen. You see a figure or a mannikin or something, but when you come up closer it’s nothing, there’s not a thing there. And if that’s so, I’m doing her an injustice. And when I got so far in my thoughts I started to weep.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3 Quotes

I resolved that I would always believe what I was told. What’s the good of not believing? Today it’s your wife you don’t believe; tomorrow it’s God himself you won’t take stock in.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

It was all up with Elka. On her whitened lips there remained a smile. I imagined that, dead as she was, she was saying, ‘I deceived Gimpel. That was the meaning of my brief life.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4 Quotes

‘Let the sages of Frampol eat filth.’

‘What about the judgment in the world to come?’ I said.

‘There is no world to come,’ he said. “They’ve sold you a bill of goods and talked you into believing you carried a cat in your belly. What nonsense!’ ‘Well then,’ I said, ‘And is there a God?’

He answered, ‘There is no God either.’

‘What,’ I said, ‘is there, then?’

‘A thick mire.’

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), The Spirit of Evil (speaker)
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

I heard a great deal, many lies and falsehoods, but the longer I lived, the more I understood that there were really no lies. Whatever doesn’t really happen is dreamed at night. It happens to one if it doesn’t happen to another, tomorrow if not today, or a century hence if not next year. What difference does it make? Often I heard tales of which I said, ‘Now this is a thing that cannot happen.’ But before a year had elapsed I heard that it had actually come to pass somewhere.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Town of Frampol
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

She is standing by the washtub, as at our first encounter, but her face is shining and her eyes are as radiant as the eyes of a saint, and she speaks outlandish words to me, strange things. When I wake I have forgotten it all. But while the dream lasts I am comforted. She answers all my queries, and what comes out is that all is right.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker), Elka
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

No doubt the world is entirely an imaginary world, but it is only once removed from the real world….Whatever may be there, it will be real, without complication, without ridicule, without deception. God be praised: there even Gimpel cannot be deceived.

Related Characters: Gimpel (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Town of Frampol
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.