Leo Finkle, rabbinical student is interested in finding a wife.
He contacts Pinye Salzman, a matchmaker, through an advertisement in the Forward.
Salzman shows up with a portfolio and photos of a bunch of girls.
The first girl, Sophie P. is a "widow one year. No children." (14). Leo turns her down because he doesn't want to marry a widow.
The next girl, Lily H. (Hirchorn), is a school teacher. She's thirty-two and Leo isn't interested because she's older than him. Way to be shallow, Leo.
The third girl, Ruth K, is only nineteen and her "Father offers thirteen thousand cash to the right bridegroom" (35) But then it comes out that she walks with a limp, and shallow Leo dismisses Salzman.
He's troubled by the interaction, but tries to forget about it.
Salzman has other plans, however, and shows up at his door.
Salzman pushes Lily H. again, promising that she's only twenty-nine instead of thirty-two.
He agrees to meet Lily and takes a walk with the girl along Riverside Drive.
Lily asks him "When… did you become enamored of God?" (109).
Leo replies, "I came to God not because I love Him, but because I did not." (111) This pretty much ends his Lily prospects, unsurprisingly. He comes off sounding like a jerk.
He realizes with horror that he is unloved and without prospects, and that his relationship with God may have something to do with.
General moping and pining ensues.
Salzman returns and Leo expresses dissatisfaction at the matchmaker's willingness to exaggerate his subjects' good qualities. He thinks Salzman is shadier than a used car salesman.
He informs Salzman that his services will no longer be required. Salzman leaves, but also drops off an envelope of pictures on Leo's table.
Leo attempts to find a girl himself, but nothing materializes.
One night, he opens up the envelope just to give it a look. There are six pictures inside, one of which sets his heart aflame with desire.
He runs to Salzman's apartment, where a surly old woman informs him that he's not in. Leo tells her to send Salzman to his apartment.
When he arrives, Salzman is waiting for him.
He shows her the picture of the girl and Salzman grows very upset: "She is not for you. She is a wild one--wild, without shame. This is not a bride for a rabbi." (182)
Salzman reveals that the girl is actually his daughter Stella, who he has disowned. He refuses to let Leo see her.
Leo persists and Salzman finally relents. Leo is "afflicted by a tormenting suspicion that Salzman had planned it all to happen this way" (200). Crafty, crafty.
Stella and Leo meet under a lamppost with high hopes. Around a nearby corner, Salzman "chanted prayers for the dead." (202)