Paul Ki
Gimpel Against the World
"What did you…?" is a typical introduction when asking a question. People like to hear what others did or will do so that they can compare themselves. Human nature causes people to recognize the smallest failures or differences in others in order to make oneself feel superior. Relating to this topic of being better than someone else, a question, "If one is greater and smarter than the other, does that make the other weaker and foolish?" can be asked. Various human characteristics can be used to belittle a person. In the short story "Gimpel the Fool" written by Isaac Bashevis Singer, a man named Gimpel is mocked, teased and looked lowly on by his townspeople because of his gullibility. According to the Bible, however, Gimpel's actions of respecting others and keeping his temper under control resemble those of a wiseman , whereas his peers are the true fools .
Gimpel the narrator begins his story with the statement "I am Gimpel the fool." (Kennedy 96) Everyone in town labeled him as the fool because it has been easy to trick him. In the book, it clearly states that he knows that they are messing with him but he still listens and does what they wish him to do. He once talked back to them which caused an emotional conversation among the townspeople that Gimpel is accusing them of falsified statements. Because Gimpel found this annoying and un necessary , he de cided to go along with their pranks . Proverbs 20:3 quotes, "Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling." (Biblegateway) Gimpel is wise because he decides to avoid fights and the others are fools because they try to make an argument in order to fulfill their prank. This scene also connects to Proverbs 18:2 which states, "Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." (Biblegateway) Because the pranksters did not listen to Gimpel and followed what they desired, they are the true fools. Based on the verses from Proverbs which reflect Gimpel's actions of respecting others through avoiding quarrels and the stubborn pranksters who did not care about Gimpel, Gimpel is the wise one and the townspeople who consider Gimpel a fool are the true fools.
Not only does Gimpel respects others, he is great at keeping in his emotions. Gimpel was persuaded by the townspeople to marry Elka, a prostitute who gave birth to a baby boy a fter 17 weeks of marriage. Gimpel is annoyed by Elka that she has been hiding the fact that she had a coitus with another man before marrying him. Out of anger, he begins a quarrel with Elka hearing unbelievable things about the baby. Proverbs 10:18 says, "Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool." (Biblegateway) Gimpel did not hide his emotions and spoke up to what he believed was right. He did not understand Elka and spoke up his feelings about the situation. Despite his anger, Gimpel falls in love with his so n and forgets all the hatred he held. The statement about the baby being premature by Elka cannot be proven to be truth but based on her history of both being divorced and being a widow, there is a high possibility that she was pregnant before marriage. Despite this issue of losing trust from Gimpel, Elka later on is caught sleeping with another man. Based on Isaiah 32:6, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness," (Biblegateway) Elka is continuously being the fool and Gimpel is still forgiving her because of the son she has given birth to. Gimpel is far from being foolish and clearly Elka who thinks that she is fooling Gimpel is the true fool.
People have different view on what a fool is. "Gimpel the Fool" written by Isaac Bashevis Singer shows many aspects of how the world would see a fool. Many people would comment that he is truly the fool but according to the Bible, Gimpel's actions are justified as wise rather than foolish. Like Gimpel experienced, it is a part of everyone's lives to face trials