Gimpel the Fool


Isaac Bashevis Singer

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Themes and Colors
Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith  Theme Icon
Punishment vs. Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The Real vs. The Imaginary  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Gimpel the Fool, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Credulity as Wisdom and Holy Faith

Since he was a child, the people of the town of Frampol have mocked Gimpel for being extremely gullible. However improbable a tale they tell him—the Czar has come to town, the moon has fallen down—he is “taken in” and accepts it. Even when Gimpel does feel skeptical about a story he has heard, the idea that it might be true makes him doubt himself, and he decides to believe, just in case. To his…

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Punishment vs. Forgiveness

Near the end of “Gimpel the Fool,” Gimpel receives a crushing deathbed confession from his wife, Elka, that she has been cheating on him for years and that none of their six children are really his. Soon after this revelation, Gimpel is visited, in a dream, by the Spirit of Evil who proposes that Gimpel, a baker, urinate in the bread he will sell to the other villagers to eat the next day, thus…

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The Real vs. The Imaginary

“Gimpel the Fool” can in many ways be taken as a critique of those who purposely distort the truth and deceive others—a kind of denunciation of the imaginary. Through much of the story, Gimpel has a difficult time establishing facts. His neighbors are constantly telling him tales which he takes as true, only to reveal moments later that they were entirely made-up. Meanwhile, Gimpel’s own wife is able to get him to set aside the…

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