Study Guide

Tevye the Dairyman Today's Children

By Sholem Aleichem

Today's Children

  • Tevye is still moping a little about the whole Menachem-Mendl financial fiasco when he hears that Lazer-Wolf, the village butcher, wants a word with him.
  • Lazer-Wolf's house is all done up with expensive stuff, but it's also pretty clear that he is barely literate.
  • Tevye assumes that Lazer-Wolf wants to buy their milk cow for slaughter. Lazer-Wolf assumes that they're talking about Tevye's daughter, Tzeitl.
  • Hilarity ensures.
  • Finally, Lazer-Wolf straight out asks for Tzeitl's hand. Tevye has some doubts because dude is way old and way vulgar, but Lazer-Wolf throws it out there that he'll take Tzeitl without a dowry.
  • Dowry must be the magic word, because Tevye agrees.
  • Tevye mentions that he'll still have to ask Tzeitl herself, and Lazer-Wolf is all, what do you mean ask? Don't you just tell her what to do and she does it?
  • Um, yikes. Clearly not good husband material.
  • They throw back a few drinks together to bond about being bossy men, and then Tevye goes home and tells Golde the wonderful news. She's super-psyched even though she says that Lazer-Wolf treated his first wife like poo.
  • Um. Maybe that should be a concern?
  • The main point of awesomeness seems to be that Tzeitl will never want for anything anymore.
  • The next day in Boiberik, Tevye is soaking in the mazel tovs on Tzeitl's engagement. He says that word travels fast, but it seems more like he's walking around bragging about it.
  • On the way home, he has a long chat with God. He's pretty psyched that, just as his life was truly starting to stink, it totally turned around.
  • This is obviously the perfect time for him to run into Tzeitl, who is crying hysterically.
  • She's heard the news, too, and is really not into marrying this gross old man.
  • Tevye is so stressed out when women cry that he immediately says she can refuse the match.
  • At home, Tevye lingers outside to try to figure out how to break the news to Golde without getting in dutch with the wife.
  • Meanwhile, the village tailor, Motl Komzoil, comes up for a chat.
  • Business is great because of all the weddings going on, he says, and then tells Tevye that Tzeitl could also be getting ready for a wedding, if Tevye would allow it.
  • Tevye is all, no, she's not into Lazer-Wolf. Then Motl is like, oh, hey, actually, I was thinking the groom might be… me!
  • This blows Tevye's mind. How could a young guy arrange his own wedding instead of letting a matchmaker do it? Insanity.
  • Just as the shock is wearing off, Motl busts out another piece of crazy. Turns out, he and Tzeitl have been engaged for a year now. This is just beyond insanity for Tevye, and you can practically see his brain exploding.
  • But after thinking about the fact that Motl is a good dude, and that he, Tevye, is not exactly royalty or anything, Tevye throws up his hands and agrees to the marriage.
  • That night, he has a brainstorm about how to get Golde on board.
  • Pretending to wake up from the middle of a horrible nightmare, Tevye tells Golde a long and suspiciously content-appropriate dream.
  • He says he dreamed that her dead Grandma came to him in the dream to congratulate him on getting Motl for a son-in-law. But when he explained to dream Grandma that actually it was Lazer-Wolf who was going to marry Tzeitl, Grandma turned into the ghost of Lazer-Wolf's first wife, who then threatened to kill Tzeitl.
  • Golde is all, whoa, dude, that's nuts.
  • Immediately, she rejects the whole Lazer-Wolf situation, and agrees that Motl would be a great husband for Tzeitl.
  • Tzeitl and Motl get married and live happily ever after in love and poverty.