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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Family

Life in Tevye is a family affair. Loyalty to the family, concern about how the family is functioning in the world, and securing the future of family members: these are all way more important concer...

Identity

Poor Tevye. He's a woodcutter then a dairyman; he's got seven daughters, then five daughters, and then—when Chava comes back—he's got six again; he's got a home and a family—and then he's got...

Tradition and Customs

In Tevye, a big red line (drawn by Tevye of course) separates Tradition with a capital T, which can never be disobeyed or disrespected; and things that are open to interpretation or even change: cu...

Religion

In Tevye the Dairyman, God is just one more person to argue with. And it's also the source of Tevye's most long-lasting and emotional relationship—full of ongoing conversations, deep philosophica...

Wealth

Money makes the world go 'round—until it doesn't. There isn't much of an overall narrative in Tevye the Dairyman, but there is a big shift in the way Tevye thinks about money. He starts off worki...

Language and Communication

Well, Woody Allen got his material from somewhere. Tevye's strongest weapon is his quick wit against whatever horrible things happen in his life, and it's his storytelling ability and his gallows h...

Power

Tevye's way with words is nothing against the big iron fist of Russian Imperial power that's about to slam down on his village. Although a lot of Tevye the Dairyman is taken up with minor jockeying...

Wisdom and Knowledge

No one likes a know-it-all—except Tevye. One of the reasons that Tevye is obsessed with his knowledge of and ability to recall the many samples of midrash that he treats everyone he knows to is t...
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