Tevye the Dairyman
by Sholem Aleichem
Analysis: Three-Act Plot Analysis
For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.
Tevye is an "ordinary man" (1.2) until he comes into a little money and sets himself up as a dairyman. Well, he's still ordinary. But at least he's not dirt-poor anymore.
Making Their Own Matches
Tevye's daughters try to marry according to their wishes, rejecting their village's system of arranging marriages. Surprisingly, Tevye is mostly okay with this radical behavior. He might want to rethink his permissiveness, though, because it ends badly when one daughter runs off with a Gentile and another kills herself after a broken engagement.
The gub'mint forcibly removes Tevye and his family from the village. He leaves thinking that there must be a place where Jews can feel like they belong. Sure there is, Tevye. It's called the Upper West Side.