Interpersonal Relationship in Malamud's The First Seven Years

In William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” the two main characters go to great lengths for love. The primary characters decline their parents strong displeasure for their relationship and continue to be with one another. Like Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” Feld, the main character, in Bernard Malamud’s “The First 7 Years”, disregards and later resents the reality that Sobel, his worker, is in love with his only daughter, Mariam. Feld thinks that Mariam deserves a young boy who is well educated and economically steady.

Despite the fact that Sobel has little official education or wealth, he still uses what he does need to Mariam, his soul. Throughout “The First Seven Years” Malamud exhibits many literary devices such as meaning, setting, and epiphany in order established a well rounded theme for the reader. That a parents desires for his child is not always what the kid desires or requirements.

In this narrative, Malamud utilizes importance to display the depth of Sobel’s love for Mariam.

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Throughout the prelude of the story Feld is frustrated by Sobel’s “fanatic pounding at the other bench”( 893 ). The continuous pounding of Sobel’s hammer represents the strength of Sobel’s love for Mariam. For years Sobel calmly exhibits his love by striving at an extremely low wage. As Sobel is “pounding with all his may upon the naked last” (895) he shows his disappointment for his predicament. Not only will he not be a suitable hubby in Feld’s eyes, Feld never ever even acknowledges the bond being established by the couple through their books.

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Later on in the story Feld confesses his awareness of Sobel’s feelings, however does not want to deal with the possibility that Sobel might end up being Mariam’s suitor. The hammer signifies the aggravation that Sobel feels, being not able to show his love for Mariam.

Malamud gives great detail to the setting to establish Sobel’s poverty, making him unsuitable for Mariam in the eyes of her father. When Malamud describes Sobel’s apartment, the reader sees that Sobel has struggled financially. “The room was a small, poor one, with a single window facing the street” (898). In that quote Malamud is trying to show how poor Sobel is, having sacrificed a better salary in order to prove his love for Mariam. As Malamud continues to describe Sobel’s apartment he describes the items found in his apartment. “It contained a narrow cot, a low table, and several stacks of books piled haphazardly around on the floor along the wall” (898). Malamud describes in this quote how poor Sobel is and that he cannot afford proper furniture. Yet, the stacks of books suggest the bond between Sobel and Mariam. As both Mariam and Sobel later tell Feld, their love of books and communication through them has established a relationship much deeper and more meaningful than one built on material goods. What the father has always held as important does not fit with Mariam’s desires and choices.

Toward the outcome of this short story, Malamud chooses to use epiphany to help Feld get a better insight on Sobel’s life. Sobel has just confessed his love for Mariam, and startling Feld because he feels his only daughter would never love an ugly, middle aged man like Sobel. When Feld sees Sobel’s reaction to his judgment “his teeth were on edge with the pity for the man, and his eyes grew moist” (899). Feld gains an insight into Sobel’s depressing life continued for the love of Mariam. Feld knows that Sobel has given up much to be with Mariam. He responds that Sobel isn’t ugly, but “that what he called ugly was not Sobel but Mariam’s life if she married him”(899).

Feld finally begins to realize that Sobel and Mariam have developed a relationship through the books. As a solution Feld decides that in two years Mariam shall be allowed to make her own decisions and choose whether or not she wants to be with Sobel. He also realizes he can not force his goals and desires on his daughter. Though Feld thinks the answer to a good life is marrying someone prosperous with a formal education, Mariam has her eyes and heart set on someone who understands her soul. Malamud’s use of epiphany exhibit Feld’s insight on Sobel’s life.

Throughout Malamud’s short story, he uses symbolism, setting, and epiphany to help develop the theme for the reader. Just like Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, Sobel struggles for several years in order to eventually be with Mariam. Even knowing of Feld’s aspirations for Mariam, Sobel continues to share his feelings through the books. By the end of the short story, Feld realizes how far and how much Sobel has sacrificed for his love. In the long run, happiness becomes more important than financial security.

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Interpersonal Relationship in Malamud's The First Seven Years. (2016, Jun 22). Retrieved from

Interpersonal Relationship in Malamud's The First Seven Years

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