Study Guide

The Golem and the Jinni The Home

By Helene Wecker

The Home

[The Jinni] was a creature of the desert, and never in his life had he come so close to this much water. (2.41)

While many people would love to make their home on some waterfront property, the Jinni is not many people. The water makes him homesick for the dry desert.

If he must be marooned in an unknown land, surrounded by a deadly ocean, and constrained to one weak and imperfect form, at least he'd ended up somewhere worth exploring. (2.72)

Many times home is what you make of it. Even though the Jinni doesn't want to be in New York City, that's where he is, so he decides to make the best of it.

And now, the Jinni reflected, she was in a new place, on unsure footing, surrounded by strangers. Like himself, in a way. (7.24)

The Jinni is at a wedding, looking at a new bride, who is an immigrant. He has a lot in common with the new immigrants to the city—they are both in foreign surroundings, and they both need to find a way to make this feel like home.

The Jinni followed Arbeely's advice and took a room in a nearby tenement. (9.14)

It doesn't really matter where the Jinni lives because his real home is outside on the rooftops. He could be in a hovel or in Trump Tower and he'd still feel like he was living in a crate.

"What Mr. Levy doesn't know won't hurt him," the housekeeper whispered, and struck Joseph Schall from the next day's departure list. (14.18)

Speaking of immigrants, Schall (formerly Schaalman) finds himself in need of a home after getting off the boat in New York City. Everyone has to make a home somehow, and Schall does it by conning his way into the Sheltering House's good graces.

[The dance hall] felt more like home than any other place in New York, but in the face of this shocking familiarity, [the Jinni] found that the gulf between his home and himself had only grown. (18.154)

It's hard to find a place where you feel comfortable, even in a place as crowded as New York City. And for the Jinni, the dance hall is a double-edged sword. It reminds him of home, which is good, but it also reminds him of what he has lost.

Michael Levy slowly woke to the thin glow of the morning. […] He closed his eyes, listened for his wife. There: in the kitchen, bustling about. It was a comforting sound, a childhood sound. The air even smelled of fresh-baked bread. (21.34)

For Michael, his apartment doesn't seem to feel like a home unless it's reminding him of his childhood. That means his wife is the literal definition of the word homemaker.

[The Golem] put down her needle and thread, then frowned in rebellion and picked them up again. She would stay home, just for one night, she would return to her old life: sewing alone, with a window between herself and the world. (23.153)

For the Golem however, in contrast to the last quote, her married home doesn't feel like home to her at all. She almost seems content returning to how she lived during her single existence.

What did [the Jinni] need, besides a roof over his head when it rained? Nothing. Nothing at all. (23.157)

The Jinni eventually realizes that he can make a home wherever. Home is where the heart is, we guess, and your heart is inside your body, so you are your home.

Go and grieve, [Mrs. Radzin] had said. And then come back. You'll always have a place here, Chavaleh. We're your family now. (Epilogue.20)

For Chava, the bakery might be her true home. There, she can put her skills to use and she has friends who treat her like family. Plus, donuts.