In Goodbye, Columbus, Neil Klugman meets and falls in love v Brenda Patimkin, the spoiled, attractive daughter of a middle-class Jewish family. The family has recently relocated from Newark to the suburbs in quick Hills, brand-new Jersey, whereby they have actually a large, comfortable home, usual of the nouveau riche class to which lock belong. For Neil, however, Brenda and Short Hills represent an enticing variation of a pastoral ideal. Once he met her for the an initial time in ~ a nation club swim pool, she was for the “like a sailor’s dream that a Polynesian maiden, albeit one v prescription sunlight glasses and the last surname of Patimkin.” She has an older brother, Ron, a basketball star just graduating indigenous Ohio State University, whose favorite record, “Goodbye, Columbus,” offers the story the title. She likewise has a boy sister, Julie, a younger variation of Brenda, equally together smart and also equally as spoiled.

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by contrast, Neil’s more humble family is composed of parents, permanently missing in Arizona since of their asthma, and his Aunt Gladys, with whom the lives and who cooks his meals and also her husband’s, her daughter’s, and her own—all different and all served at various times. Aunt Gladys is modeled ~ above the stereotyped Jewish mama and also has a funny accent, however she likewise demonstrates the most usual sense and also genuine mankind of any of the personalities in the novella.

together their affair progresses, Neil and Brenda spend more and much more time with each other at her family’s house in brief Hills, wherein at the finish of the summer Neil is invite to invest a mainly of his vacation. They have actually sex clandestinely in her room every night. The family members is unexpectedly plunged right into a frenzy of task when Ron announces his engagement come Harriet, his Ohio State sweetheart, and they decide to gain married over labor Day weekend. In all the chaos that ensues, Brenda it s okay Neil an extension on his visit as well as an invite to Ron’s wedding.

Neil is not certain whether that feels much more love or lust because that Brenda, and also he debates with self whether to ask she to marry him. Fearing rejection, the proposes rather that she gain a diaphragm. In ~ first, she demurs, yet Neil suggests that their lovemaking will certainly be not only safer but also much more enjoyable, at least for him. Still she demurs, and it becomes a challenge of wills, like numerous of the other gamings played in the story. Finally, under Neil’s insistence, Brenda capitulates, and they go to new York together for her to it is in fitted with the device. If she is in the doctor’s office, Neil start St. Patrick’s cathedral and also questions himself and also his feelings. He establish his carnality, his acquisitiveness, and also his foolishness in coveting all the Brenda is and also represents: “Gold dinnerware, sporting-goods trees, nectarines, garbage disposal, bumpless noses”—and the perform goes on.

Ron’s wedding is a usual Jewish celebration, through too lot food and also champagne. The occasion provides Roth through further methods for satire, together Neil meets the rest of the family and Ron’s college friends. He it s okay considerable complimentary advice indigenous Leo Patimkin, one of Brenda’s uncles, that tells Neil the he has a an excellent thing going through Brenda and he must not louse points up. Actually, in demanding the she get the diaphragm to please him, he already has started to louse things up.

The sad end of the story comes as soon as Brenda asks Neil to involved Boston for the Jewish holidays in the fall. Although he is not an observant Jew and has difficulty getting time off from his occupational at the Newark windy Library, Neil goes come the hotel that Brenda has booked because that them. When he arrives, however, Brenda is deep distressed. She has actually foolishly left her diaphragm in ~ home, whereby her mother has found it and also thereby discovered the affair. Her parents every write separate letters come her, informing her in their different ways of their shame and also unhappiness. As soon as Neil learns all this, that is shocked at Brenda’s carelessness yet then realizes the leaving the device where it can be found may have actually been the result of one unconscious desire on her part to end the affair. As she has actually invited Neil to Boston ostensibly to continue their lovemaking and also insists that he do every initiative to obtain there, she obviously has some ambivalence (or maybe Roth does) towards Neil. He find it difficult now to go on through her, and he takes the train back to Newark, wherein he arrives simply in time to start work on the Jewish brand-new Year.

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Neil Klugman, whose surname analyzed from Yiddish way “clever man,” is typical of Roth’s early heroes. Sophisticated, bright, and educated, that is however a schlemiel, a loser, someone who bungles gold opportunities that come his way. That is the prototype because that Gabe Wallach in Letting Go, another loser, whose split self avoids him from having satisfying and permanent relationships through others. Both have the knack, together Neil puts it, of transforming winning into losing, so the the surname “Klugman” involves have an ironic implication. Nevertheless, Roth is hardly an support for the values stood for by the Patimkin family, who room the principal and also most apparent targets for his ridicule.