By Leonard Unger
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Additional resources for AMERICAN WRITERS, Volume 4
Such things, his father warns, lead inevitably to modern dress, loss of faith, even apostasy. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Babad (modeled closely after the author's father) proves prophetic. With the years Ezriel outgrows both his Hasidic past and his dowdy wife; he also develops strong resemblances to Yasha Mazur, Asa Heshel Bannet—and Joshua and Isaac Singer (even to living on Krochmalna Street). He finally becomes a successful neurologist, only to learn science offers no more "truth" or certainty than does religious faith.
Lusty, insatiable, and absurdly human, they struggle briefly, frantically; then, bewildered and exhausted, they succumb. The lowest chimney sweeps, beggars, thieves, and prostitutes have a dignity no disaster can destroy. Neither prophet nor reformer, Singer lays bare, without shock or outrage, the intensity of their struggles. More existential and modern than many writers dealing with today's familiar materials, he rejects convenient platitudes of alienation, loneliness, or defeat. No character is permitted to rely upon God alone for spiritual victory.
One who has it much worse is Hindele, in "The Black Wedding," in whom family melancholy and eccentricities have given way to madness. She dies convinced she has succumbed to Satan. Real or imagined, Hindele's demons have won. Satan relishes his every ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER / 13 conquest, even over so pitiful a victim as Hindele. But in "The Destruction of Kreschev" he can boast again of vanquishing not only an innocent bride but an entire community. He chooses his targets well. " So Satan indulges there his love of mismating the old and young, beautiful and ugly, good and corrupt.