Study Guide

Michael Levy in The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker

Michael Levy

Drove the Chava to the Levy 

Michael is probably the most tragic character in the book. Not only is he shunned by his uncle before the book starts (his uncle is the Rabbi, and Michael shuns religion), he works pretty much nonstop running the Sheltering House… and for what? He gets married, finds out his wife is a golem, and then is murdered by the evil wizard who made her. Yikes.

If only he'd listened to his uncle who said that "love founded on only loneliness and desire will die out before long. A shared history, tradition, and values will link two people more thoroughly than any physical act" (10.91). But Chava still asks Michael to marry her, and he agrees, mainly out of loneliness and desire.

If only Michael weren't so quick to judge, he might have been pretty happy with the Golem. After all, he and Otto Rotfeld, the man the Golem was made for, have a lot in common: They're both lonely, inexperienced men. Michael is shy and a bit prudish. As a bonus, Michael doesn't have all the creepiness that surrounded Rotfeld, so he's an even better match for Chava.

But neither Michael nor Chava are honest with one another. Michael "had no idea who his wife really was" (23.100), and the Golem ends up feeling guilty for deceiving him, a deception that culminates in his death. Oops.

Looking at the big picture, we see that Michael is to the Golem as Fadwa was to the Jinni. "I tried to turn him into my master" (28.83), the Golem says about Michael. In other words, she didn't really care about him; she only cared about what he could do for her. Both supernatural creatures used these humans in a way. And in both Fadwa and Michael's cases, the Jinni and the Golem were careless with their hearts, and the humans ended up dead. Double bummer for the humans.