Bernard Malamud Short Stories

1443 Words Feb 17th, 2012 6 Pages
Zinsule Bonner
Pride Comes Before the Fall In the short stories “The Bill” (1951) and “Take Pity” (1958) by Bernard Malamud, the author focuses on the theme of victimization that can be associated with the characters’ pride, and in their cases, willfulness. In “The Bill,” Ms. Panessa, an elderly woman who partners with her husband in a family-owned delicatessen, unwittingly victimizes herself and others with her own sense of honor. Similarly, in “Take Pity,” the main character, Eva Kalish, owns a grocery store with her husband in a “dead neighborhood” (175). Akin to the relationship Panessa develops with Mr. Schlegel in “The Bill,” when Kalish becomes a widow, she is caught in a vicious cycle wherein her pride and
…show more content…
In this case, Mrs. Panessa’s pride victimizes her own husband, and consequently, he “falls.”
Similar to the Panessas, Eva and Axel Kalish have two daughters, and they have, likewise, purchased a grocery store. The Kalish family were polish refugees, and the father and husband, Axel Kalish, was a hard worker. When he got to America, he saved up as much money as he could so that he could buy this grocery in a “dead neighborhood where he didn’t have a chance”(175), as said so in the story. Rosen new that they would make it, and warned his that buying this store was a mistake because he didn’t want the family to have to suffer. Rosen said, “ ‘Here they will bury you if you don’t get out quick!’”(175), sharing his strong feeling about the Kalish family and their investment in the run-down grocery. Unlike the parent/child relationship the Panessas have with their children, Mrs. Kalish values her relationship with her younger daughters. Furthermore, while Eva admits that she never expects to become a millionaire, “all [she] wants is … a little living and [to] take care of [them]” (177). In an effort to accomplish her goals, she and her husband purchase the small grocery. Despite their best intentions, it becomes clear that the bout of entrepreneurism, her sense of pride Eva has about her past, as well as her refusal to