The Magic Barrel Essay

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In the following excerpt, Richman provides a plot synopsis and an examination of the major themes of "The Magic Barrel."

The impact of "The Magic Barrel" is, inexplicable— certainly as inexplicable, and for much the same reasons, as The Assistant. The story of the love and maturation of a young rabbinical student, it conspires like the author's second novel in a boundary world which pulsates now with the bright energy of a fairy tale, now with something of the somber tones of a depression tract. Both qualities are immediately apparent in the opening: "Not long ago there lived in uptown New York, in a small, almost meager room, though crowded with books, Leo Finkle, a rabbinical student in the Yeshivah University."

The key to Leo Finkle's rebirth, however, lies not alone in the protagonist, a poor and lonely student hurrying after six years of study toward his June ordination...

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This section contains 1,905 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Magic Barrel Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Magic Barrel from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.