Study Guide

The Magic Barrel Genre

By Bernard Malamud

Genre

Family Drama

Families: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Well, you can live without them, but as Leo and Salzman find out, it's pretty dang depressing.

Leo wants a bride to rid him of his crushing loneliness, and Salzman is eaten up inside because his daughter has run away to join the circus, er, is disowned because she liked to go out and party with rich men.

So both of them strive to reach a mutually advantageous solution. This story shows the drama that happens when family is something that is absent (and yearned for). There are no epic Thanksgiving dinner arguments here—all that, presumably, comes later.

But if Leo and Stella Salzman end up getting hitched, we can bet that there will be lots of familial drama to come… possibly revolving around Salzman's borderline obsession with eating fish. Stinky.

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