The Magic Barrel, By Bernard Malamud Essay examples

The Magic Barrel, By Bernard Malamud Essay examples

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It’s probably hard for you to imagine living in a world where it doesn’t matter who you hate and who you desire. A world where a relationship isn’t made up of two people in love, but of two individuals who are “chosen” for one another. Modern-day America teaches us that arranged marriages are just something we see in the movies so it’s easy for us to forget that it actually does take place worldwide. I didn’t put much thought into this idea until I read “The Magic Barrel,” By Bernard Malamud. This story sparked more questions in me than any other text this semester.
“The Magic Barrel,” is a short story about a man named Leo Finkle. Leo is young man who struggled immensely when it came to finding love. After hardly finding time in his hectic schedule, he meets with Pinye Salzman, a self-proclaimed match-maker. Salzman devotes his time to choosing a woman for Finkle. Finkle seemed to have a problem with all the women selected. Finally, Finkle finds a woman who happens to be Salzman’s daughter. After much debate, Salzman reluctantly agrees to let Leo have a shot with her. It turns out to be all a setup, and we don’t really know how the pair end up.
Although the idea of arranged marriage that is reflected in the story isn’t the kind we see projected in movies, it still raises a lot of questions. The first thing I thought about when I read the story was whether or not arranged marriages are morally correct. In my opinion, they are not. I think people should have a choice in everything they do in their life. As Christine Rogers points out, “The preferences in the relationship seemed to be what the man wanted.” (Rogers, ““The Magic Barrel” Response” October 15, 2016) These marriages that Salzman were arranging seemed to be very one...


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...ks. Maybe if someone had chosen a fit mate for Hulga, it wouldn’t of been someone who was actually so wrong for her. Leo went through many different women throughout his selection process, but eventually landed one whom he couldn’t get his mind off of. If Leo had taken a traditional route, he may of never met the girl he imagines to be “the one.” If my final decision was based solely between the two stories, I’d say that the arranged marriage actually brought greater success.
Overall, “The Magic Barrel,” made me think more than any other text we’ve viewed this semester. It challenged my beliefs, morals, and ideas all at once. The story made me question my original stance and encouraged me to look deeper into the subject. By the end of the reading, my opinion had mostly changed and that is why I think that Malamud’s short story was the best choice for this response.

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