As Debra Spark says in her introduction, Bernard Malamud uses “fairy tale, myth and magic” not to distract us from reality, but “lead [us] to it in the most profound way.” Imagine us diving back into the words of our favorite childhood fairy tales and stories, letting them lead us to examine our own reality in a way we didn't know how back when we were children. Malamund allows us to do that with his stories “The Magic Barrel,” “The Last Mohican,” and “The Jewbird.” His use of magical realism allows us to see our reality through these stories of magic and mystery.
Malamund also has the unique ability to draw us in to the plaight of his characters, even us readers who are not Jewish. When his mother asked why a non-Jew would want to read his stories, he famously replied that “All men are Jews.” In that, we all suffer in various ways, either by our unique ethnic background, gender or class. We live, therefore we suffer, according to Malamund.
We have characters that have forgotten their Jewish past, such as Cohen in “The Jewbird” and Fidelman in “The Last Mohican.” We have the “Old Jews” such as the lonely rabbi in “The Magic Barrel,” and the union of him with the fallen rabbi's daughter. These stories show that one must find a balance between the ways of the past and the ways of the present. Malamud accomplishes that by creating stories that all people, oppressed or not, will be able to read, enjoy and learn from.