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The First Seven Years

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Lani Trahan

on 24 November 2014

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Transcript of The First Seven Years

The First Seven Years
By: Bernard Malamud
Who is Bernard Malamud?
Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. Malamud's family moved to the United States from Russia in the early 1900s and ran their own grocery store. After he graduated from high school and college, he worked at a factory and as a clerk. Although he wrote on his spare time, Malamud did not begin writing seriously until hearing of the horrors of the Holocaust. He is known as one of the most prominent figures in Jewish American literature, which began in the 1930s.

By: Bernard Malamud
Main Characters
- Feld
- Sobel
- Miriam
- Max
-The story is set in New York City (1950’s)
-European Jewish Immigrant community
- a strong patriarchal family structure
- arranged marriages
-emphasis on education and generational advancement
Feld is a Polish Jewish immigrant shoemaker. He has worked hard to establish his business and has had some modest success. However, his years of hard work and the worry of maintaining a business have damaged his health. Five years earlier, he suffered a heart attack; another mild attack keeps him confined to bed for three weeks. Although Feld occasionally wishes he had had a son rather than a daughter, he is a loving father who is deeply concerned for the welfare of his daughter, Miriam. He wants her to have a better life than he has been able to give to her mother. He unsuccessfully tries to persuade Miriam to go to college and then tries to arrange an unsuitable match and failed to notice that Sobel and Miriam like each other.
Sobel is presented as a hard-worker. He is Feld's helper in the shop. He has been working with Feld for five years. Although he is not educated as Max is, he is qualified, determined, and loyal. He shows his love for Miriam by giving her books to read. Despite these positive traits, he is a bit rash. Rather than confronting Feld about his love for Miriam, Sobel gets angry at the arranged date with Max and storms out. He then tells Feld about his love for Miriam and how they love each other. Feld then only allows Sobel to marry her when she turns twenty-one (a two year waiting period). Sobel returns to work happily the next day.
Who is Miriam?
Miriam is Feld's beloved daughter. She is respectful to her father and fulfills his desire for her to date Max. She shows no concern for the formal education that her father wishes her to attain, nor does she express any interest in Max after their second date. She wants someone with a soul and love. She shows her affection for Sobel by reading the books that he gives her. Feld insults Sobel by saying that he is too old and ugly. Miriam does not care about Sobel's looks, she cares about his soul.
Round vs. Flat
Feld and Sobel are both round characters, while Miriam and Max are flat characters.
Dynamic vs. Static
Feld is a dynamic character, while Sobel, Miriam, and Max are static characters.
The story is set in New York City (1950’s)
European Jewish Immigrant community
- a strong patriarchal family structure
- arranged marriages
-emphasis on education and generational
Story Background
Narrative Hook
The narrative hook is the date being set up by Feld for Max and Miriam.
Rising Action
Feld talks to Max about Miriam.
Sobel storms out of the shop.
Miriam does not enjoy Max’s company while on their dates.
The new assistant steals from Feld.
Feld has a mild heart attack.
Feld seeks Sobel to return to work.
Falling Action
Feld finds out that Sobel is in love with Miriam and that is the only reason he has worked for him for as long as he did.
Feld agrees to allow Sobel to marry
He just has to wait two more years to
Sobel goes back to work for as Feld’s
Main Conflict
Man vs. Man
-The conflict is the one between Feld's desires for Miriam’s future and Miriam’s own desires for her life.

Minor Conflicts
Man vs. Man
- Feld and Miriam do not see eye to eye regarding her future.
Man vs. Man
- Feld and Sobel are odd at times due to Sobel's temper and his hidden love for Miriam.
Conflict Resolution
Feld’s confrontation with Sobel makes him to realize he wanted the wrong things for Miriam.
Who is Sobel?
Who is Feld?
Internal and Direct Characterization
- old
-angry at Sobel because he keeps giving Miriam books to read
-not very educated
-loves Miriam
-in love with Sobel
-large-framed girl
The continuous pounding of Sobel's hammer symbolizes the strength of Sobel's love for Mariam.
As Sobel is "pounding with all his might upon the naked last" (895) he shows his frustration for his plight.
The hammer symbolizes the frustration that Sobel feels.
True love is self-sacrificing and enduring through time.
The story evoked emotions of pensiveness and hope.
Other Literary Elements

-a man looking out of a partly frosted window. He lives in a Polish village and is inside his shoe workshop. Outside it is a cold, February day. It is snowing heavily and he is pondering about his daughter's future. In the background, he can hear Sobel, his assistant, busily at work while pounding heavily at his bench as he makes new shoes.
-Sobel's eyes turned black as coal with rage.
-The bench groaned under Feld's weight.
-All along during the story, Feld is searching for a successful and well educated man to marry his daughter. At the end of the story, he finds out that Sobel (his assistant who has been working with him for years) loves his daughter and in a strange twist of events, he gives Sobel permission to date his daughter after two more years despite the fact that Sobel is uneducated.
-alludes to a more popular text. This story is a biblical allusion to “Jacob and Rachel”.
Full transcript