Saturday, 28 May 2016

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories Take Pity (Bernard Malamud) Summary and Question Answers

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories Take Pity (Bernard Malamud) Summary and Questions Answers


Two cultures are at conflict in the story “Take Pity”. These cultures are the Polish and the American. Eva represents the Polish culture and Rosen represents American culture. Because of different cultures, Eva and her husband are not ready to trust anyone.
Rosen is an ex-coffee salesperson. He tries to commit suicide. Davidov is a census taker. He has come to find out the reason of his attempt to commit suicide. First reason teases Davidov, but then tells him Axel's story to explain the reason of his attempts to commit suicide.
Axel Kalish is a Polish refugee. He has come to America to take refuge and for better career. He works very hard and starts a grocery store, but it fails. He asks for credit from a company. The company sends Rosen to analyze the business. He recommends okay out of pity. However, he tells Axel that his business will fail. He advises him to get rid of it. First Axel does not listen to him but then decides to act upon his advice. However, all of a sudden he dies of heart attack.
After his death, his wife, Eva, gets the insurance money. She invests that money in the business. Rosen has advised her not to do that. Her business fails. She and her daughters have nothing to eat. Rosen tries to help her, but she rejects every offer of help. Eva is not ready to accept Rosen’s help because of his idea of self-respect. Rosen wants to help her at every cost. He leaves everything to Eva in his will and tries to commit suicide. At the end, Eva comes to him but he abuses her and asks her to go back.

Question Answers

Story in outline

Take Pity is a pathetic account of a kind hearted man?s futile efforts to rescue a poor family from abject poverty and death. The man, Rosen, is a coffee salesman. The poor family is a widow, Eva, and her two daughters. Eva fails to make a living from her husband?s shop. She and her two daughters are starving. Rosen tries to help them in many ways. But Eva refuses to live on charity. Rosen asks her to marry him. But she rejects the offer. Then he sends her some money. He sends the money through a friend who says it was repayment of a loan given by her husband. Eva refuses to take the money. She is determined to live an independent life. She is very willful. But Rosen knows that she will lose her foolish war against Fate. He becomes desperate. He tries to kill himself, leaving all his property to her. But he fails even in this last attempt. Eva is moved. She comes to him to accept his offer of marriage. But Rosen has had enough. He refuses to do anything for her, although it goes against his nature to reject a request.
The story reveals some surprising secrets of human nature. It gives us a better understanding of human psychology and emotions.
Rosen's unusual softness is contrasted with Eva?s unusual stiffness. His frustration in his sincere attempts to help her out of her misery makes him desperate. It moves Eva at last, and she consents to marry him. But now it is too late. Rosen is no longer the generous self-sacrificing man he always had been. His character is changed. This change is more painful than Eva?s sufferings.

Eva's Character

Eva is a young widow with two daughters. She is determined to make her own living. So she rejects every offer of help from the kind-hearted coffee salesman, Rosen. She counts on her courage. But she fails to realize that courage alone cannot overcome fate. The truth dawns on her too late. She feels very sorry for her refusal to accept Rosen?s sincere offers of help. She regrets her harsh attitude towards the kind-hearted man. So she tries to make it up with him. But now he is sick of her. He has already gone too far in his sincere efforts to help her. He is frustrated. So he refuses to forgive her.
Eva's courage is heartless courage. She is too willful to realize the sufferings of her poor daughters. Why should she subject them to starvation, when she knows that she cannot make even a bare living? Her courage is rather pride that nobody can admire. It breaks Rosen?s heart and changes his whole character. In the end Eva repents. She feels sorry for her stiffness towards the sincere and kind-hearted man. Her character too is entirely changed. Her resolution to live her own independent life breaks down. She is moved to pity for the brokenhearted man. She decides to accept his offer of marriage although it is against her nature. But she repents too late. It is too late to make amends for the harm she has done to Rosen.

A Comment on Rosen's Behaviour

Rosen is a coffee salesman. He is a very kind-hearted man. He does his best to save the poor family of Axel Kalish. But Axel?s widow Eva is too willful. She is determined to make her own living. Rosen knows that it is impossible. So he offers to help her. But she rejects every offer. He even offers to marry her. But she refuses. Rosen cannot see her and her two daughters starving to death. He becomes desperate. He tries to kill himself, leaving all his property to the poor family. But this last effort also fails. He is a lovable character. He goes far out of his way to help the starving family. He is selfless and sincere. His role is a noble role. Human society has never been devoid of such people, but they are rare, too rare these days.
Rosen uses every trick to save the unfortunate family from starvation. Being a businessman he knows that the shop set up by Eva?s deceased husband will fail. The locality does not need that shop. He advises Eva to move away to a better location. But the headstrong girl refuses to take his advice. He tries to help her with food and money. But she heartlessly refuses to accept his sincere offers. He even offers to marry her. And finally he even tries to kill himself, leaving all his property to Eva and her daughters. He fails even in this last desperate attempt. It breaks his heart. Now at last Eva realizes her fault. She feels sorry for the pains that she has caused Rosen. She tries to make amends but now it is too late. Rosen is truly a great man although he is neither rich nor famous. His role in the story inspires love and respect.

Written by: Asad Hussain

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