The First Seven Years（by Bernard Malamud）
About the author
Bernard Malamud (April 26, 1914, Brooklyn, New York – March 18, 1986) was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century.
The beginning of the story( on a snowy day in February): Max comes to Feld's store to have his shoes repaired. Feld asks the boy to go out with Miriam and gives him his phone number. Sobel furiously pounds on the naked last and rushes out of the store.
About a week later: Feld visits Sobel's apartment to ask him to come back. Sobel would not see him. Feld hires a new helper.
On a Friday evening: Feld is not feeling well and stays in bed. Max calls in and has the first date with Miriam.
Saturday a week later: Miriam has the second date with Max. After coming home, she tells her father that she was bored.
Several days later: Max comes in to pick up the repaired shoes.That night Feld discovers that his new helper has been stealing from him, and he suffers a mild heart attack.
Three weeks later: On the first day he returns the shop, Feld goes to Sobel's place and asks him to return. He learns that Sobel has been in love with Miriam. He tells Sobel to wait for two more years before he proposes Miriam.
Next morning: When Feld comes to open the store his assistant was already seated at the last, pounding leather for his love."
Feld：Feld is a Polish Jewish immigrant shoemaker. He has lived in America for many years although he spent his youth in a village in Poland. He has labored hard to establish his business and has had some modest success. He is a loving father who is deeply concerned for the welfare of his daughter, Miriam. He unsuccessfully tries to persuade Miriam to go to college and then tries to set up a romance between her and Max. Feld is sensitive enough to be apprehensive, but he fails to perceive where Miriam’s affections truly lie.
Miriam Feld：Miriam is Feld’s nineteen-year-old daughter, a “large-framed girl with a well-shaped body, and a fine open face and soft hair.” Miriam is intelligent and reads many books, especially those that Sobel passes on to her. But Miriam has no desire to go to college, preferring to get an office job and be independent. She is quite capable of standing up to her father, and does not confide in him very readily. In her choice of romantic partner, she is also extremely independent, rejecting her father’s choice. She is not afraid of expressing her own opinions.
Max：Max is a college student studying to become a certified public accountant. The son of a peddler, he is tall and thin, with a beak-like nose. At Feld’s instigation, Max takes Miriam out twice, but she finds him a bore because he is interested only in practical, material things. In a telling moment, Max shows more excitement when he collects his newly repaired shoes than he does when he first sees a photograph of Miriam.
Sobel：Sobel is Feld’s assistant in the shoemaking store. He is a Polish Jewish refugee and has worked for Feld for five years. Sobel is efficient and trustworthy, and Feld allows him to manage the business. Sobel has no worldly ambitions and is content to work for low wages because he is in love with Feld’s daughter Miriam. In his physical appearance, Sobel is not impressive; But he has an active and questioning mind. Although he is not educated in the conventional sense, he reads the classics voraciously. Sobel is also an emotional man, and he sometimes acts impulsively, as when he quits his job after learning that Feld has arranged a date for Miriam with Max. Themes
? The Material vs. the Spiritual
Although Feld wishes the best for his daughter and wants her to find a husband who can provide her with a better life, he takes account only of material values. In contrast, Miriam, who seems to care little for material things, loves Sobel, who is the opposite of Max. But in the climax of the story, Feld is forced to reexamine his values and make a choice. Feld tacitly accepts that there is more to life than the narrow materialism he has previously espoused.
The American Dream
Feld, knowing that his own station in life is not likely to improve, cherishes the idea of the American Dream for his daughter. The irony is that Miriam, too, strives for the American Dream — but her vision of the Dream differs from that of her father. She has no interest in social respectability or wealth; however, in one respect at least she is more “Americanized” than Feld because she strongly believes in charting her own course in life and is not afraid to be unconventional.
The First Seven Years: Critical Overview
With its Jewish immigrant characters living in dingy surroundings and burdened by the weight of life’s cares, ‘‘The First Seven Years’’ is a representative Malamud story. It has been highly regarded ever since its publication in Malamud’s collection of stories, The Magic Barrel (1958). For example, William Peden commented in the New York Times, ‘‘[Malamud] possesses a gift for characterization that is often breathtaking. His lonely shoemakers, despondent graduate students and sickness ridden shopkeepers are brilliantly individualized.’’ The First Seven Years: Summary
Feld the shoemaker and his assistant Sobel are working at their benches on a snowy February day. Feld thinks about Max, a young man he admires for his dedication to pursuing his education. He contrasts Max’s determination with the lack of interest his daughter Miriam shows in education.
At that moment Max brings in a pair of shoes for repair. Feld takes him aside, out of Sobel’s hearing, and asks whether Max would like to meet Miriam. After Max sees a picture of Miriam and asks a few questions about her, he agrees to get in touch with her. Feld gives him Miriam’s telephone...
The First Seven Years: Introduction
Written in 1950, ‘‘The First Seven Years’’ was published in Bernard Malamud’s first collection of short stories, The Magic Barrel, in 1958. The story is about Feld, a Jewish shoemaker who seeks a suitable husband for his daughter Miriam. But she is not interested in his choice of Max, a college student. Feld soon discovers that his assistant, Sobel, a Polish Jewish refugee, is in love with Miriam, and that she returns his affections. Miriam sees spiritual qualities in Sobel, but Feld is dismayed because he wants her to do better for herself. Feld is faced with a moral choice: will he allow Sobel to wed Miriam? Can he put his daughter’s feelings above what he thinks is appropriate for her? Can he learn to see in Sobel what Miriam sees in him? In the climax of the story, Feld tells Sobel that if he works for two more years, making seven in all, he can ask Miriam for her hand in marriage. Hence the title of the story, which is an allusion to the Biblical story of how Jacob labored in the service of Laban for seven years to win the hand of Rebecca, whom he loved.
‘‘The First Seven Years’’ is one of many stories Malamud wrote about Jewish immigrants living in Ne＋ 更多类似范文