In Bernard Malamud's "The Magic Barrel", one of the main characters is a marriage broker named Pinye Salzman. Throughout the tale, Mr. Malamud draws many parallels between Pinye Salzman and an angel through the use of imagery. There are countless angelic references and some dialogue that conjures the image of an angel. How do these images manifest themselves and where in the text can they be found? First, it may be pertinent to supply some background on angels.
Angels, in almost all cultures, are thought to be the "hands" of god. They serve god in many ways from being messengers to guardians, protecting those that need help. Perhaps, they are sent to guide a person to a certain end or to their "destiny". They are metaphysical creatures and are thought to exist on a different plane of reality. All seeing and all knowing, there is a sense that they are always watching over their charges. They appear whenever needed and disappear just as suddenly. It is possible that they even have some control over the very environment with the ability to change the weather at will, making the sun shine or rain or snow whenever they wish. Over the long history of man, angels have been intertwined in many key events.
One of the more famous angels in history is Cupid. Cupid was the Greek god of love. Even today he is still associated with matters pertaining to romance and love. Often, he is depicted as a cherub, a small child with wings, a bow and arrow. He would fly about, unseen, and shoot his targets with the arrows to make them fall in love with each other. In essence, he was a matchmaker, bringing two people together. Much like the marriage broker in the story.
Pinye Salzman is the marriage broker that Leo Finkle, the main character, chooses to help find himself a wife. Pinye is an older gentleman. He has been a marriage broker for many, many years. His most distinguished feature appears to be his eyes. There is something about them that eases Leo in this...
Cited: Malamud, Bernard. "The Magic Barrel." A Pocket Full Of Prose: Vitage Short Fiction. Ed. David Madden.
Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers. 1992. 88 - 101.
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