The Slave Summary
Isaac Bashevis Singer

Everything you need to understand or teach The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

  • The Slave Summary & Study Guide

The Slave Summary

The juxtaposition between determinism and free will plays a major role in Singer's novel. Does God control the events in Jacob's life or does Jacob control his destiny with his decisions? Jacob ponders this problem throughout the book. He recognizes that God watches over him (such as when his life is spared during Chmielnicki's pogrom in Josefov while his family dies) and is omnipotent, yet he believes that Satan tempts him with Wanda's beauty and that he must find the power within himself to withstand temptation; such resistance represents free will, not determinism. In response to Wanda's question about Creation, Jacob responds, "What was the purpose of Creation? Free Will! Man must choose for himself between good and evil."

Slavery is another important theme in Singer's novel. Jacob is a slave throughout the novel. As the book begins, Jacob works as Jan Bzik's slave after the pogrom in...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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The Slave Short Guide

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