The final paragraph of Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Pigeons" goes like this:

The following morning broke autumn-like and drab. The skies hung low and rusty. The smoke of the chimneys dropped back, gathering on the tile roofs. A thin rain fell, prickly as needles. During the night someone had painted a swastika on the professor's door. Tekla came out with a bag of feed, but only a few pigeons flew down. They pecked at the food hesitantly, glancing around as if afraid to be caught defying some avian bad. The smell of char and rot came up from the gutter, the acrid stench of imminent destruction.
(translated by the author and Elizabeth Shub)

Why are the pigeons so hesitant, and why is there the feeling of "imminent destruction"? The professor has already passed away, accompanied by the cloud of pigeons to the grave - so why is at the end of the story that there's this feeling of impending doom?


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