Who Is Malamud's 'The Magic Barrel'?

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In Malamud’s “The Magic Barrel”, Leo Finkle has been studying at Yeshiva University for the past six years. He immerses himself in his studies so that he can achieve his goal of becoming a rabbi, leaving no time for social life. It can be inferred that Leo became socially awkward around women as a result of his inability to familiarize himself with them. After an acquaintance declared that he “might find it easier to win himself a congregation if he were married,” he contacts Pinye Salzman, a matchmaker, upon discovering his “two line advertisement” in the paper. With Leo’s fate in the palm of his hands, Salzman orchestrated events in ways that led Leo to discover his shortcomings and eventually find love.

Leo pursues a wife for unconventional reasons; rather than marry for love, he wants to use marriage as a device to establish himself as a rabbi. He reached out to Salzman, a man he entrusted, to help him find a suitable woman for marriage. One night, Salzman appeared in Leo’s apartment with a manila packet containing information of the women he planned to show him. Leo mentions that aside from his parents, he’s alone. He goes on to explain that a matchmaker brought his parents together, and he declares their marriage to be “successful.” Although Leo respects matchmaking in Jewish tradition, he seems to be uncomfortable throughout the ordeal. The gesture and sound of Salzman flipping through the cards physically hurts Leo. When Salzman presents the women, he behaves like

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