The Magic Barrel Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 42 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Magic Barrel.
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Malamud's Leo Finkle is a character trying to figure out who he really is. Having spent the last six years of his life deep in study for ordination as a rabbi, he is an isolated and passionless man, disconnected from human emotion. When Lily Hirschorn asks him how he came to discover his calling as a rabbi, Leo responds with embarrassment: "I am not a talented religious person. . . . I think . . . that I came to God, not because I loved him, but because I did not." In other words, Leo hopes that by becoming a rabbi he might learn to love himself and the people around him. Leo is in despair after his conversation with Lily because ". . . he saw himself for the first time as he truly was—unloved and loveless."

As he realizes the truth about himself, he becomes desperate to change. Leo determines to reform himself...

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This section contains 443 words
(approx. 2 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.