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Free Study Guide for The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

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THE FIXER - FREE BOOK NOTES

CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES / ANALYSIS

CHAPTER VIII

PART 1

Summary

Yakov thought of all the good that might possibly follow Shmuel's visit. People who could do something to help him might now hear about him.

The warden had heard from an informant that there had been voices the night of Shmuel's visit. He had extracted an admission from Zhitnyak that Yakov had had a visitor. Yakov told the warden that he did not know the visitor. He said that the visitor had wanted to know if he was hungry.

Workmen fastened rings to the wall of the fixer's cell. The window was made more secure. More bolts were added to the door. The number of bolts on the iron door now reached twelve. A special bed was set in the cell. It had a place to put the prisoner's legs at night so that he could not move.

In the daytime, Yakov was fastened to the wall, and, at night, he was fastened to the bed.

Zhitnyak was replaced by a guard named Berezhinsky. He was an ex-soldier who practiced his marksmanship using Yakov for a target. But, instead of actually shooting, he would just say "Bang."

Yakov had hoped that the body searches would end, but, instead, they increased in number to six per day. This depressed Yakov.

Yakov's hopes following Shmuel's visit turned to a wish that he had not visited him at all. Because of the visit he was now chained.

The second winter was colder in the cell than the first one. The new guard, Berezhinsky, was slow lighting the stove.

When he had a chance, Yakov used the spoon that he had been given with his gruel to start digging around a bolt that held one of his chains. The guard caught him. The cell was searched twice because of that. The needle that he had hidden in the stove was found. As a punishment, his stool was taken from him. He spent his days chained to the wall standing up.


Yakov's life had no variations. One day was like the others. They were all the same. He thought back to his earlier days in the cell and wished that, at the time he was living them, he had appreciated them more.

Yakov decided to cause the wardens and guards to kill him. He wanted to die. But, he wanted them to be responsible for his death. He would refuse to undress, and then spit on the Deputy Warden. If that wasn't enough, he would attempt to get a hold of the Deputy Warden's gun. Surely, that would be enough. No matter how they described it, they would not be able to say that he had been found guilty.

Notes

The needle that was found had been hidden by Yakov in Chapter VI, 4.


PART 2

Summary

That night Yakov awakens from a dream and finds that Kogin has stopped pacing in the hallway and is at his cell door. Kogin wants to talk about his children, mostly about his son who has recently been sentenced to twenty years of labor in Siberia for murdering an old man.

Kogin offers Yakov a cigarette. That would be a minor infraction of the rules. Yakov asks him to release his legs, but Kogin will not do that. That would be enough to get Kogin shot. Kogin wonders whether Yakov still has the gospels in the cell. Then, he asks him if he can remember any of them. Yakov cannot.

Yakov goes back to his dream. He dreams of Shmuel in a coffin. After he awakens from the dream, he asks Shmuel to let him die for him instead.

The next day, during the sixth search, Yakov decides that he should not die. For one reason, no one would find out about it. For another, Jews would never be cleared of the accusation that one of them had killed Zhenia Golov.

Yakov's plan now is to have a trial.

Kogin learns that his son drowned on the way to the Siberian prison.

Notes

This part is written in the present tense. Most of the rest of the book is written in the past tense.

 

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