2: Excerpt, Isaac Bashevis Singer, "The Divorce," 1983.
This fictional narrative describes a remembered divorce that took place in Poland.
Suggested activity: Have your students describe the elements of the divorce ritual that are present in the excerpt and discuss: Why does the narrator's father (the Rabbi) ask Shmelke the questions he asks him? Why do you think Salka isn't allowed to remarry for ninety days? What emotions do you think Salka and Shmelke are each feeling during the ceremony? The story seems to suggest that men have an easier time after divorce than women. Do you think this is true? Why or why not? Why does the narrator's mother suggest that it is improper for Shmelke to visit his children and ex-wife? What do you think of this limitation on Shmelke's relationship with his ex-wife? What is the meaning of the saying in the last line of the excerpt - "A good cow lets herself be milked"? Which charcter is being compared to a cow, and why?
Source: Isaac Bashevis Singer, "The Divorce," The New Yorker, June 13, 1983, p. 45.