Summary of the “Tevye Milkman” by Sholem Aleichem

Summary of the “Tevye Milkman” by Sholem Aleichem

I’m unworthy

The poor milkman Tevye carries his goods to the rich, including those who rent summer cottages in Boiberica. Among them is the writer Sholom Aleichem, who wants to write a book about the milkman. Tevye thanks the writer for the honor, not once mentioning that he is not worthy of it. Happiness, that Tevye met such an enlightened man! “… I am truly a devoted friend to you, give me God at least a hundredth part of what I wish you!” – says the milkman and at the end of the letter adds where to send him some money after the publication of the book.

Happiness has come!

Previously, Tevye was not a milkman, he drove logs from the forest to the station and died with his wife and children from hunger thrice a day, not counting dinner.

One day, returning home late at night after an unsuccessful day, Tevye meets two lost women in the forest. The milkman is taking them straight, right up to Boybeirik.

As a token of gratitude, Tevye is generously endowed with food, money, and a cow. The cow is milking, the woman says, but there is no milk. Tevye on wakes awakens Gold’s wife in the middle of the night. She curses, curses, as a woman should:

Baba… a woman and will remain! … It’s good that it’s now out of fashion to have many wives.

They decide to buy another cow. So Tevye becomes a milkman. Now his business is much better.


To Tevye comes a relative of Golda Menachem Mendl, their fence is a “cousin wattle”. He’s been doing good business for a year and a half. True, the wife of Menachem Mendla curses him in letters on what the light stands:

That’s why she’s a wife to drive her into the coffin.

Menachem Mendl suggests Tevye is profitable to invest hard-earned money. After long meditations, Tevye decides to take a chance. From the companion for a long time there is no news. The milkman goes to a relative, dreaming of wealth, but he only repents. His lucrative business others are called “last year’s snow.”

The current children


the elder daughter of Tevye Zeitl a rich widow, a butcher, is wooing. True, the daughter of the groom age Tseitl, and the hand of the butcher is not very generous. But “as the saying goes:” The closest man is himself “- who is kind to people, he is unkind to himself.” Especially the groom agrees to take the girl to wife without a dowry. Golda is also happy about the profitable party, but Tseitl does not want wealth: she is ready to eat once in three days, if only to go after the poor tailor – they love each other. Tevye, regretting his beloved child, gives consent to marriage.

Zeitl is happy with her husband, although they live poorly. Tevye helps her daughter with money and her food.


Tevye is surprised by the neighbors’ children of artisans and tailors: they are eager to leave for the city to study, although they eat a twig with a sore and lie on lofts!

To Tevye often comes one student, Perchik: “An uncouth such, puny, black, kikimora, but – Bashkovit, and tongue – fire!” Perchik also teaches the reading of the milkman’s children.

Swat offers Tevye a wealthy suitor for his second daughter Godle. And Godle took and got into a fucking prick, in this Perchik! Young celebrate a quiet wedding, after which Perchik immediately leaves. Soon Godle also goes for her husband: he is in exile for revolutionary activity. Tevye pours out the experiences of Sholom-Aleichem. Trying to get distracted, the milkman is changing the subject: “Let’s talk about more gay things.” What is heard about cholera in Odessa? “


Tevye notices that his third daughter Khava often talks with an Orthodox clerk. Khava believes that the clerk is “this is Gorky’s second.” The father does not know who the first Gorky is, and warns his daughter to stay away from the clerk, because in the sacred scripture it is said that everyone should look for himself equal. Hava does not agree: the people themselves have divided themselves into Jews and non-Jews, rich and poor.

The daughter disappears. Tevye meets a priest who says that Hava now lives in his house, she is the wife of a clerk. On Gold’s advice, Tevye goes to the ass. He wants to see his daughter, but the priest does not allow. At home, the milkman together with his wife celebrate mourning according to Hava.

Returning home one evening, Tevye meets her daughter in the woods. Hava begs to listen to her, but the father, overcoming himself, passes by: “I myself want to turn around, but Tevye is not a woman, Tevye knows how to deal with the devil-tempter.”

He is tormented by thoughts of what a Jew and a non-Jew are, and why some should hate others.


Tevye shares with Sholom Aleichem a new grief:

“Hope on God” – you supposedly only hope for him, and he will try to bend you in three deaths…

In summer, Tevye has a new customer, a rich widow. The woman worries about her son: the guy is a shoal with a moron, lisapeds and fishing on his mind, only he misses his paternal fortune. Tevye gets to know the boy more closely, gets sympathetic towards him and invites him to her. The widow’s son becomes a frequent visitor and soon asks Tevye for the hand of his fourth daughter – Shprintsi. Tevye outlives what the widow will say: poor Shprintsa is not equal to the rich. But the boyfriend does not care about this, he is not going to choose relatives for his mother. Tevye calls the youth a pacifier, but the lover of Shirinets does not want to listen to anything. Such daughters are Tevye: beautiful and stately, like pines, and if they give their heart, it is already irretrievable.

Milkman dreams of the welfare of his daughter, but then the widow’s brother is announced and offers money to Shprintsa return the word to his nephew. Tevye is insulted, he turns to God: “What did you see, Lord, in the old Tevye? Why do not you leave him alone for a minute? Is it on me that the light is a wedge?”

Why are people so evil? Can not they do good? Why do they need to spoil the life of others and themselves, when they could live well and happily?

The widow and son suddenly leave without paying Tevye for the goods, and Shprintsa is burning from the grief in the river.

Tevye goes to Palestine

Golda dies, and not reconciled with the death of Shprintsi.

The fifth, the most beautiful daughter of Tevye Beilk, chooses a rich groom, a contractor, although he does not like him. Tevye tries to discourage her daughter from getting married according to the calculation: Vaughn Godle is a beggar, and she is happy with her husband even in exile. But Beilka says that now is another time, you need to think about yourself.

Returning from the wedding trip, the brother-in-law invites his father-in-law to himself. He proposes Tevye to sell everything and go to Palestine. The contractor himself got out of poverty and is now ashamed that his father-in-law is a simple milkman. He tells everyone that his wife’s father was a millionaire. Tevye comments: “If the Lord has judged me to have ever millions, so let it be considered that I have already served this punishment.”

Beilka, suffering, assures his father that her husband is a good man, because he helped Godle and her husband.

Returning home, Tevye sells his property. Especially it is a pity to part with an old horse. Tevye will be homesick for customers, but he comforts himself by visiting the grave of Rachel’s mother.

Go away!

The husband of Zeitl dies of the dry, and she and the children come to live with her father. The contractor’s son-in-law becomes bankrupt and leaves with Beilko to America. Having rummaged for the first time, they now knit by car. So Tevye was not able to visit Palestine.

The hunt for the Jews begins. The peasants, who always lived in peace with Tevye, want to pogrom it, or they will fly by themselves. The policeman gets an order to evict all the Jews from the village: “It was somehow easy on my mind: after all, the grief of many is half the consolation.”

Tevye and Zeitl decide to move to the city. For the sake of his daughter, he restrains tears, because Tevye is not a woman. But most hard on the heart:

What not to say, after all Batkovschina! He grew up here, he suffered all his life and suddenly, come, come! Say what you want, but it hurts!

Before leaving, Tseitl begs to take Hava with them, but Tevye does not want to hear about her, she is not his daughter for a long time. Khava enters, and Tevye can not alienate the child when it stands in front of him and says: “Father!”

Now all his attention belongs to grandchildren, who are a thousand times more valuable than children. As it is said in the sacred scripture: “A child of your children.”

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Summary of the “Tevye Milkman” by Sholem Aleichem