Take Pity- Punjab University B.A English Short Story Complete Notes 2015

1.     Take Pity

Bernard Malamud

Summary

Take Pity is a dismal account of a kind hearted man’s futile efforts to rescue a poor family from abject poverty and death.  The man, Rosen, is a coffee salesman. The poor family is a widow, Eva, and her two daughters. Eva fails to make a living from her husband’s shop. She and her two daughters are starving. Rosen tries to help them in many ways. But Eva refuses to live on charity. Rosen asks her to marry him. But she rejects the offer.
Then he sends her some money. He sends the money through a friend who says it was repayment of a loan given by her husband. Eva refuses to take the money. 


She is determined to live an independent life. She is very willful. But Rosen knows that she will lose her foolish war against Fate. He becomes desperate. He tries to kill himself, leaving all his property to her. But he fails even in this last attempt. Eva is moved. She comes to him to accept his offer of marriage. But Rosen has had enough. He refuses to do anything for her, although it goes against his nature to reject a request.

The story reveals some surprising secrets of human nature. It gives us a better understanding of human psychology and emotions.

What does Rosen advises Eva; why does she not  act upon it?
Why does Eva refuse offers of help from Rosen?
Rosen is an ex-coffee sales man and has a good deal of experience about business. From his experience, he knows that Eva’s business would not flourish there.
He advises Eva to take the money and her children and run away from there. However, Eva refuses to act upon his advice because she thinks that with the insurance money she can establish her business. She says that with the insurance money she will stock up and fix the store. She believes that she will be able to attract the customers by decorating the store. Therefore, she rejects this advice because of her optimistic approach.
Secondly, he advises to marry someone, but she again refuses. She believes that nobody will marry her because she is a widow with two daughters. She believes that she cannot have happiness because all her life she has been suffering. Here she refuses because of her pessimistic point of view. (153)

Why does Rosen want to help Eva?
Rosen wants to help Eva out of pity. The title of the story also suggests that.
After her husband’s death, Eva gets insurance money. She decides to invest the money in her husband’s failing business. The business fails and things worsen. She and her daughters starve. Out of pity, Rosen bear their sufferings. That is why he tries to give something to eat to Eva’s daughters. He is even ready to marry her out of pity. He tells her that he wants to marry her because he wants to take care of her daughters. It is because of this pity that Eva rejects the offer. She wants love not pity.
When we read the story carefully, we find that he wants to help them because he cannot stand their misery. His heart bleeds for them. Moreover, he is sick and knows that he will not live long. That is why he wants to help Eva even with his whole money and with his life. (164 word)

Eva was responsible for her tragic failure. Elaborate
Eva was a self-esteemed and optimist woman. She believed that after investing the insurance money her business will flourish. So, she was not ready to listen to any advice from Rosen. But she was unable to see the things from rational angle.
When her husband died, Rosen advised her to take the money and the children and run away from there. Eva said that she had no place to go. At this, he offered her to shift in his two-family house. She was too foolish to accept this handsome offer.
Eva also rejected Rose’s proposal for marriage. Rosen had promised her that after the marriage he would take care of her and her daughters. It was a good chance but she refuses it too. It was a great mistake.
Therefore, we can conclude that Eva was responsible for her suffering after the death of her husband. She should have realized that she could not live on her own with her two starving daughters. She was too optimistic and too obstinate. (170 words)

Write a character sketch of Eva.
Eva is a self-esteemed and optimist woman. She believed that after investing the insurance money her business will flourish. So, she was not ready to listen to any advice from Rosen. But she was unable to see the things from rational angle.

It is due to her too much optimism that when Rosen advised her not to invest the insurance money, she does not listen to him. She thinks that her business would flourish some day. She keeps on believing that until the end of the story.
She has also been presented as a stubborn woman. Some offers mad by Rosen were quite reasonable, but she ignored every offer very stubbornly.

She was a woman of great self-respect. To accept anything in charity was disgrace to her. She rejected Rosen’s proposal of marriage because it was also based on pity. She wanted love not pity. At the end to the story, when Rosen tried to commit suicide, she misunderstood him. She through that Rosen had done that out of love of hers. That is why she went to Rosen at the end of the story with raised arms. (188 words)

Why does Eva come to Rosen with haunted, beseeching eyes, and raised arms at the end of the story?
Why does Rosen refuse to help Eva in the end of the story?
Eva is a young widow with two daughters. She is determined to make her own living. So she rejects every offer of help from the kind-hearted coffee salesman, Rosen. She counts on her courage. Her courage is rather pride that nobody can admire. It breaks Rosen’s heart and changes his whole character.

 In the end, she repents. She feels sorry for her stiffness towards the sincere and kind-hearted man. Her character too is entirely changed. Her resolution to live her own independent life breaks down. She is moved to pity for the brokenhearted man. She decides to accept his offer of marriage although it is against her nature. But she repents too late. It is too late to make amends for the harm she has done to Rosen. 

She comes to him with hunted, beseeching eyes, and raised arms and expresses her feelings. But now he is sick of her. He has already gone too far in his sincere efforts to help her. He is frustrated. So he refuses to forgive her.

Give your comments on Rosen’s behavior
Why is Rosen angry with Eva at the end of the story and why does he abuse her?
Character Sketch of Rosen
Rosen is a kind hearted man. He has a human nature. He has been trying to help Eva out of pity. He does everything to help her. He advises her not to invest the money but she does not listen to him. He gives her loan out of his own pocket. He proposes her out of pity but she rejects this proposal. He tries to send money to Eva with a fake name. He tries everything, but Eva rejects his every offer.

He is a sick man and he knows that he will not live long. Therefore, as a last attempt, he tries to commit suicide leaving everything to Eva and to her daughters. Fortunately, he is saved. However, still he does not have any interest in life. It appears that he again wants to commit suicide.

When Eva comes to him, he misunderstands her. He thinks that she has come to reject his will. He gets angry. He has tried everything to help her and she is still the same stubborn woman. Therefore, he loses his temper, abuses her, and asks her to go back to her children. (189 words)

Describe Eva’s life before her husband’s death.
Eva led a very hard life even before the death of her husband. Her native country was Poland and she belonged to Jewish family. However, she had to leave Poland because of Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Therefore, to save the lives of his family and for better career, her husband took her and their two daughters to America.
However, the condition of her life did not get better. 

Her husband worked very hard and started a grocery store with his savings, but the store did not flourish and their condition became worse. Now they did not have anything to eat. After two months, he tried to sell the store but nobody bought. Now they were starving. They did not have anything to spend. They got poorer. Because of hunger and starvation, they became so weak that no one could look at their faces. He decided to go in auction but because of continuous worries, tension and failures he died of heart attack. (162)

Discuss Eva’s life after the death of her husband.
After the death of her husband, Eva took over the charge of everything. Although Rosen advised her not to invest the money in the store, yet she did that. She invested the insurance money in the store. She bought all kinds of goods on cash. It took her a week to arrange things in the store. She worked very hard. She packed things on the shelves. She mopped the floors. She mad decorations with tissue paper. In short, she arranged and decorated the store very well.


However no customer came. They used to come only when the main shops were close. They used to buy only minor things. Therefore, her store failed miserably. She did not make any profit. She had no money. She and her daughters at up the food present in the store. After that, they were starving again. Once more, they had become so weak that no one could look at their faces. (156 words)


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About Saif Ullah

Hi, I am Saif Ullah, a teacher, trainer, educational writer and consultant