In many stories there are series of conflicts with an individual and his society. In "Gimpel the Fool," written by Isaac Bashevis Singer, there is conflict between Gimpel and the society in which he lives in. Gimpel is portrayed as a foolish man who has been getting stepped on by the townspeople ever since he was a child. In "Gimpel the Fool" Singer shows how society can abuse the weakness of one man for their own personal enjoyment, therefore, shaping ones role in the community.
The major conflict of the story deals with Gimpel's relationship towards people in his community. Gimpel is always being mocked at for being naive. The people in his community take advantage of his short coming and make it even worse. The odd thing is that Gimpel allows this to be done to him. He even admits to knowing they are lying. Gimpel says, "I knew very well that nothing of the sort had happened, but... maybe something had happened." (Singer 62) This proves that Gimpel is not as dumb as others believe. The thing Gimpel has that no one else is shown as having is moral values. Gimpel's conscience does not allow him to perceive what is true and what is not true. Gimpel will end up feeling bad if he accuses someone of lying, so he perceives everyone as trying to tell the truth.. Gimpel sees everyone as trustworthy, hoping that they would have the same values as himself.
An even bigger and more complex conflict seems to arise between Gimpel himself. He is fearful of what others might think of him if he acts rationally. He believes he is going to offend them, when in reality he is offending himself. Again, this is an example of his conscience getting in his way. Gimpel says, "...the whole tow...
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...ce because he keeps letting his conscience get to him.
The conflict between Gimpel and the townspeople is only resolved when Gimpel assures himself that anything can happen. Singer is able to show how society can make someone feel if they are continually attacked and the impact they can have on someone's life. If Gimpel was never mocked at he could have turned into a man who would not be able to express his opinion. But since society decided to label him as a fool, that is what he stayed for most of his life. Most importantly, Singer is trying to explain how outside sources can shape ones life and turn them into someone they are not.
Singer, Isaac Bashevis. "Gimpel the Fool." Introduction to Literature. 2nd ed. Ed.
Muller, Gilbert H., and John A. Williams. United States of America: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1985. 61-70.