The short stories, “the Magic Barrel” and “The German Refugee” displays Bernard Malamud’s sorrow over his mother’s death. “The Magic Barrel is about a young Jewish man named Leo Finkle, who has been studying six years to be a rabbi at a Jewish university called Yeshiva University in Brooklyn, New York. The story is ultimately about this man’s quest to find a wife, because one of his colleagues told him when he was ordained as a rabbi, a wife would make it easier for Leo to win a congregation over.
However, Leo has no experience or social life with women, so Leo calls a marriage broker or matchmaker named Pinye Salzman, who Leo likes at first for being amiable. Salzman takes out three photos of women and tells Leo about the women, but he is not interested in any of them. Salzman trying to find women irritated Leo, and he ends up not liking him, because Salzman lied to him about a woman’s age who Leo tries to go out with. This makes Leo very devastated and he even rethinks becoming a minister, because he does not love God. But later he finds the woman he is looking for, and he decides to continue being a minister.
Salzman however did not want Leo to marry her for she was poor, but Leo said I will love her no matter what. “The German Refugee” is about a German-Jewish refugee from Germany named Oskar Gassner who flees Germany during World War II to the United States. The story is about Oskar and a twenty-year old student who teaches english to Oskar, so Oskar can make a speech to become a Lecturer. However, Oskar struggles to learn english and write the speech, because the pain of the Nazis taking his career as a journalist made him very hateful towards the Germans.
Losing his job, having nightmares about the Nazis, and the Nazis killing his people makes him want to commit suicide, and he loathes the German language for not being able to learn english. His tutor tries to encourage Oskar, but Oskar tells him he has no faith or confidence in himself. However, Oskar builds up strength to write the speech, and he makes the speech very well. His tutor takes pride in what he was able to accomplish through Oskar, but Oskar ends up killing himself with his gas stove. The reason Oskar does this is, because he did not take his daughter with him, even though his wife implored him.
His daughter ends getting converted to Judaism by force, and his daughter is shot and killed in a concentration camp. Malamud made the character Stella in “the Magic Barrel” to remember and honor his mother, and her own attributes. According to Bernard Malamud’s “the Magic Barrel”, “He appeared carrying a small bouquet of violets and rosebuds. Stella stood by the lamppost smoking. She wore white with red shoes, which fitted his expectations, although in a troubled moment he had imagined the dress red, and only the shoes white.
She waited uneasily and shyly. From afar he saw that her eyes — clearly her father’s–were filled with desperate innocence. He pictured, in her, his own redemption. Violins and lit candles revolved in the sky. Leo ran forward with flowers outthrust. ” (Malamud) The carrying of flowers in this passage shows that Malamud was trying to honor his mother at her grave, and Stella is supposed to represent his dead mother, who through all the negative attributes thinks she is beautiful in the eyes.
These attributes such as smoke, shyness, and innocence show Malamud’s mother’s disorder, because innocence shows helplessness, and smoke and shyness represent the ugliness of Schizophrenia. Malamud showed he could not get his mother out of his mind and was upset in his writings. According to Bernard Malamud’s the “Magic Barrel”, “Leo hurried up to bed and hid under the covers. Under the covers he thought his life through. Although he soon fell asleep he could not sleep her out of his mind. He woke, beating his breast.
Though he prayed to be rid of her, his prayers went unanswered. (Malamud) This clearly shows that Malamud was upset about his mother’s death, because the agony of her death made him not want to sleep. Leo is like Malamud, because he has the pain and agony of not having the woman he wants. Malamud loses his mother, and Leo cannot have the woman he wants. Malmud desires for the agony to go away, but it just continues to come back even in his sleep. According to Bernard Malamud’s “The German Refugee”, “In one dream he told me about, he had gone back to Germany to visit his wife. She wasn’t home and he had been directed to the cemetery.
There, though the tombstone read another name, her blood seeped out of the earth above her shallow grave. He groaned at the memory of the dream. ” (Malamud) This shows that Malamud struggled to look passed his mother’s passing for he had nightmares about her constantly. Similarly, Oskar had nightmares of his wife getting dying in Germany, where he is absent from. Oskar’s wife dies in the nightmare, and Malamud has nightmares about his mother but his mother is actually dead. Malmud tried to ignore other women in his life by not being social with them, so he could get over the loss of his mother easier.
According to Bernard Malamud’s the “Magic Barrel”, “He had for six years devoted himself entirely to his studies, as a result of which, understandably, he had found himself without time for a social life and the company of young women. ” (Malamud) This shows that Malamud ignored being social with women or anyone by busying himself writing his books, so he did not get thoughts about his mother’s death. All of this shows that Malamud’s writings were influenced by his mother’s death, but the Holocaust had a much larger devastating effect on Malmud and his writings than his mother’s death.
The Holocaust was a very sorrowful time for Malamud, because his people were being destroyed and murdered. This made him want to express his sorrow for his nationality through his writings. “The German Refugee” displays Bernard Malamud’s sorrow over witnessing the Holocaust through a German-Jewish Refugee named Oskar. According to Bernard Malamud’s short story “The German Refugee”, “In tormented English he conveyed his intense and everlasting hatred of the Nazis for destroying his career, uprooting his life after half a century and flinging him like a piece of bleeding meat to hawks.
He cursed them thickly, the German nation, as an inhuman, conscienceless, merciless people. ” (Malamud) This shows Malamud’s hatred of the Nazis for destroying his own people and his defense of them. Malamud was incensed by the Nazis for murdering his people for no reason. Oskar is like Malamud, because he express his hatred towards the Nazis with cursing. Oskar hated the Nazis, and Malamud hated them as well. Malamud even struggled to sleep through the night thinking about and having nightmares about the Holocaust.
According to Malamud, “When he did sleep, out of exhaustion, he had fantastic frightening dreams of the Nazis inflicting torture on him, sometimes forcing him to look upon the corpses of those they had slain. ” (Malamud) This clearly shows that Malamud was tormented by the murdering and torturing of his own people. Malamud is trying to convey to everybody in his writings about just how brutal and awful the Holocaust was, and he wanted to remind people that this was portentous, very evil, and gives you a huge feeling of trepidation.
Malamud was upset and lost confidence and composure, because Nazis murdered and took everything from his people. According to Malamud, “I have lost faith. I do not-not longer possess my former value of myself. In my life there has been too much illusion. I tried to believe what I was saying: Have confidence, the feeling will pass. Confidence I have not. For this, and also whatever else I have lost, I thank the Nazis. ” (Malamud) This shows that Malamud was very downcast for what the Nazis did to his people during the Holocaust.
Malamud was trying to remind people that every Jew who was not murdered lost confidence and their faith in God, because they felt that God had abandoned them to the grave or was putting them under retribution. The pain of the Holocaust got so terrible for Malamud that he wanted to commit suicide, so he could be rid of the horror of it all. According to Malamud, “She writes in a tight script it takes me hours to decipher, that her daughter, after Oskar abandons her, against her own mother’s fervent pleas and anguish, is converted to Judaism by a vengeful rabbi.
One night the Brown Shirts appear, and though the mother wildly waves her bronze crucifix in their faces, they drag Frau Gassner, together with the other Jews, out of the apartment house, and transport them in lorries to a small border town in conquered Poland. There, it is rumored, she is shot in the head and topples into an open tank ditch, with the naked Jewish men, their wives and children, some Polish soldier and a handful of Gypsies. ” (Malamud) This is exactly why Malamud thought of killing himself, because Oskar committed suicide for this reason.
Malamud is trying to show people an example of why the Holocaust was so scary and evil, which was the Nazis taking Jews and other people, and shooting them into a ditch. This shows that the Holocaust was a huge inspiration for Malamud’s writings, because this was the most devastating time in life and is people needed support in their time of huge grieving. The Holocaust was one of the largest inspirations for his writings, but his nationality was one important inspiration as well.