Tevye the Dairyman
by Sholem Aleichem
Tevye the Dairyman Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Story Number.Paragraph
With a little help from God, there I was penniless, poor as a beggar, with a wife and kids, starving to death three times a day, not counting suppers, may it not happen to any Jew. […] all I got was half a ruble a day, and not every day at that. Just try to feed, kayn eyn horeh, a houseful of hungry mouths, may they stay healthy... (2.3)
So… does Tevye love his family? Accept them as a necessary burden? Secretly wish to be free of them? Is "starving to death three times a day" meant to be a joke about how much they complain about the lack of food or a self-insult about how every meal is a reminder of Tevye's inability to provide?
"Say now," I said, "can you be Boruch-Hersh Leah-Dvossi's son-in-law?"
"You got that right," he said to me. "I am a son-in-law of Leah-Dvossi's and my wife's name is Sheyne-Sheyndl, Boruch-Hersh Leah-Dvossi's daughter. Now do you remember who I am?"
"Be quiet a minute," I said. "I believe your mother-in-law's grandmother Sora-Yente and my wife's aunt Frume-Zlate were cousins, and if I'm not mistaken you are the middle son-in-law of Boruch-Hersh Leah-Dvossi's." (3.9-11)
Feel free to LOL at the names, since this is meant to be a huge joke about how crazy entangled all these small-village family relationships would get.
"If you want to know, I can barely pull together a hundred, and there are eighteen holes to fill with it. First of all, I have to marry off a daughter—"
"Listen to me," he said, "that's the point I'm making! When, Reb Tevye, will you have another chance to put in a hundred and take out, God willing, so much that you will have enough to marry off your daughter and then some?" (3.35-36)
Money is really tied in up every other thing in this book—check it out here, for example, as Tevye is already allocating money he totally hasn't actually made yet to pay for one of his daughters' dowries.