I was preparing for my exam, and in the exam solution book I found:

There is cross cultural relation between Stella and Leo. Because Leo was Jewish and Stella was Christian.

Is this a good analysis to write in the exam paper?

In the story "The Magic Barrel", how is it possible that the father (Pinny) and daughter (Stella) are from different religions? Is it one of the reasons why Pinny was chatting for her death or sinful acts?

  • 1
    Ugh. What a terrible exam answer book.
    – Mike
    Jul 30, 2019 at 0:16

2 Answers 2


There is no indication in the story that they are from different religions. Stella is only introduced at the very end of the story, and nothing is said about her religion. Additionally, nothing is mentioned about her sinning. The only thing we have is the following:

"Like an animal. Like a dog. For her to be poor was a sin. This is why to me she is dead now."


"Why, he asks," Salzman said, bursting into tear. "This is my baby, my Stella, she should burn in hell."

But there is nothing here that indicates that she had actually done anything wrong. In fact, Leo later suspects that Pinye was deliberately talking like that in a sort of reverse psychology to get him to want to date Stella:

Leaving the cafeteria, he was, however, afflicted by a tormenting suspicion that Salzman had planned it all to happen this way.

Lastly, when Pinye was praying for the dead, there is no mention that this is a reference to Stella (though, of course, that may have been the intent):

Around the corner, Salzman, leaning against a wall, chanted prayers for the dead.


Whether or not someone is Jewish is determined by their maternal lineage, not their paternal lineage. In this case, and assuming that that statement is correct, if Stella's mother was not Jewish then Stella would not have been considered Jewish.

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