Salzman may sound like sales man. That may remind his job. That means he may sell
About the name’s origin, “salz” is from German that means salt. And salzman means salt
merchant. So, it still has a connection with the activities of selling goods.
Pyne Salzman is a matchmaker with 25 years of experience. That means he is a professional
matchmaker. In Judaism he can be called a Shadchan. And the matchmaking system is called a
shidduch. The function of a shadchan is to help 2 single Jews can form a couple for the purpose
Traditionally, single Jews, or their parents, close relatives, friends, come to a shadchan and make
inquiries about the partner, such as, character, intelligence, level of learning, financial status,
family and health status, appearance and level of religious observance. And the shadchan will
find some candidates based on the inquiries.
A Shadchan may receive money, or gifts or nothing, which, the payment, based on the
agreement between a single and the shadchan.
In the story, Salzman is called as a commercial cupid and as Salzman said, “I am in the business
for twenty-five years”, he had “two-line advertisement” in a newspaper, the Forward. That
means he worked as a matchmaker to make a living.
We first see him as an old man having an unkempt appearance:
- In paragraph 2, page 1: with an old and worn black portfolio, an old hat, a too short and tight
overcoat, smell of fish, lost a few teeth, “amiable manner curiously contrasted with
mournful eyes. His voice, his lips, his wisp of beard, his bony fingers were animated”, “his
mild blue eyes revealed a depth of sadness”
- He also had horn-rimmed spectacles.
Through those details especially his mild and mournful eyes, which contained “depth of
sadness” people can see that Salzman is not a happy man.
- Losing a few teeth suggests that Salzman has dental problem and problem with eating. That may
be the reason why he loves eating fish so much. Because fish is softer and easier for him to eat
than meat. Having bony fingers and once he appeared as “a skeleton with haunted eyes”. that
convey that he doesn’t have a good health. Even his wife looks not much better, a think,
asthmatic, gray-haired woman in felt slippers”
His appearance may also suggest that he was living in poverty. And that is true when we see
how his apartment was described: in a very old tenement house, but the old house was “less than
a block from the subway, nor a loft, nor a store”. Three dark flights to his apartment. And
looking inside his room, we can see that it is not tidy with full of stuffs and those are not good
anymore: “It was sunless and dingy…one large room divided by a half-open curtain…a sagging
metal bed. The near side of the room was crowded with rickety chairs, old bureaus, a three-
legged table, racks of cooking utensils, and all the apparatus of a kitchen… An odor of frying
fish makes weak to the knees.” (at the beginning and the end of paragraph 2, page 11)
In conclusion, Salzman was an old man living in a boring and old place, in a scruffy, and
gloomy room with full of raged stuffs.
Maybe because of his poverty, his daughter left him, left her home, and Salzman disowned his
daughter, as he said: “Like an animal. Like a dog. For her to be poor was a sin. This is why to
me she is dead now.” And “she should burn in hell.”
Salzman wasn’t proud of his daughter, but the way he called Stella “This is my baby, my
Stella,” I think it shows that he still loves his daughter. But, at the same time he
Our old commercial cupid is not only not successful in his career, not happy in his life, not
living in good condition, but also doesn’t have a good health.
- As a commercial cupid, or a marriage broker, Salzman is well-spoken, and kind of good at
persuading and observing people as a sales person.
At the end of page 6: When observing Leo’s hesitation and Salzman thought that he had
persuaded Leo. And he was right, because on Saturday afternoon, Leo met Lily.
He usually says “I give you my word—” to make Leo believe in what he told Leo.
And Salzman was sometimes a tactless broker, line 8, page 4.
- On page 9, near the middle of the page, Salzman said that: he was so happy that he would talk
too much about two fine people, who he thought those were wonderful to get married. That was
his weakness. But what does it mean by his “too much”?
Then it turns out Salzman is an untrustworthy commercial cupid.
• He told Leo that Lily was 32 then reconfirmed that she was just 29. But Leo found out
later, Lily was actually “a woman past thirty-five and aging rapidly.” (we can see that on
page 8, par 1, line 5)
• That was not a mistake, I think. Because on page 2 when reading card of Sophie P, Salzman
mentioned her age first, but later when moving on Lily H. He didn’t mention Lily’s age
deliberately. That is why Leo said: “I don’t believe you mentioned her age?” (on the beginning
of the next page)
• When reconfirmed Lily’s age, Leo doubted Salzman, but after listening to Salzman’s
excuse Leo decided to meet Lily. So, I think Salzman is good at persuading and lying to
• Not only not telling Leo the true age of Lily, Salzman also exaggerates things about Leo:
He told Lily about a completely different Leo, “a total stranger, some mystical figure,
perhaps even passionate prophet that Salzman had dreamed up for her” (the first lines of
the first paragraph of page 8). And Leo said that "You told her things abut me that weren't
true. You made out to be more, consequently less than I am. She had in mind a totally
different person, a sort of semi-mystical Wonder Rabbi." (page 9, in the middle of the
• That was why Leo called him a trickster. His dishonesty may be the reason why he is
not a successful matchmaker.
Through the way Salzman reads his cards mechanically, I think Salzman is also a traditional
matchmaker. He follows the traditional standards in choosing a partner for Leo, he bases on:
characters, intelligence, level of learning, financial status, family and health status, appearance and
level of religious observance.
Salzman is a materialistic man. To him, wealth, dowry, money are the priorities in his criteria.
As we can see how he reads information about Sophie, Lily, Ruth K.
• Another example: On page 3: “If Rothchild’s daughter wants to marry you, would you
say on account her age, no?” and Leo said “yes” that means Leo would refuse such a
proposal, so “Salzman shook off the no in the eyes.” The Rothschilds has been an
unimaginable wealthy and powerful Jewish family since late 18 th century. Leo was not a
man from an aristocracy or a wealthy family, or a financial dynasty. It is impossible for
Leo to be a candidate for a Rothschild’s daughter. So, to Salzman that would be a great
opportunity for a man like Leo to be rich, and to have a good social status. That is to say
how Salzman value wealth, fortune.
- Salzman is working for the sake of Leo but he doesn’t care about what Leo needs, he choses the
candidates based on his own priorities not Leo’s inquiries.
and dishonesty may be the main reasons why he is not successful as a matchmaker. He was
working not because of people’s happiness but because his own purpose of getting rich. That
is why in the last sentence of paragraph 3, page 1, when Leo gave compliment, and Salzman
felt that: “he experienced a glow of pride in his work, and emotion that had left him years
5. A mythical commercial cupid
- Salzman who has only two lines advertisement in a newspaper, the Forward.
- He always appears in nights or dark settings that makes him so mysterious:
• The 1st time: “one night out of the dark fourth-floor hallway of the graystone rooming
• The 2nd time: “So good evening. I am invited?” (line 9, from the beginning of page 5)
• The 3rd time: “The marriage broker, a skeleton with haunted eyes, returned that very night.”
(the first lines of paragraph 1, page 9)
• The 4th time: in a day that: “Although the day was bright his (Leo’s) view of it was dark.”
(line 3, par 2 started by “The days went by”, page 10)
• And when Leo climbs the upstairs in the place where Salzman living, there were “three
dark flights” (line 3, par 2, page 11)
• At the end of the story, in the night Leo met Stella, Salzman were leaning at a wall of a
- On Saturday afternoon, Leo’s first time dating with Lily, Leo felt that “whom he uneasily sensed
to be somewhere around, hiding perhaps high in a tree along the street…” 5 final lines of the
first paragraph on page 7.
- And things even get more mysterious when Leo asked Salzman’s wife where his office was, and
she said: “In the air.” “In his socks.” Those ambiguous answers made the commercial cupid
- Salzman once told Leo that he had so much cards in his office, his drawers are full of cards, so
he put them in a barrel. But when Leo went to Salzman’s apartment, he looked in Salzman’s
room and found no sign of the magic barrel. Whether he lied to Leo or he was telling the truth,
we and Leo don’t see Salzman’s magic barrel because it is not in his apartment, and perhaps,
because they are all “in the air” and “in his socks” as Salzman’s wife said. Is that because he is a
cupid even a commercial one, but still a cupid? So, he has magic and works in the sky.
The way Leo contacts Salzman is not convenient when they can make a phone call to get things
done, it is old fashioned as well. “No phone number was listed…he has originally
communicated with Salzman by letter.”
Salzman is also unpredictable when he usually appears suddenly:
• “the matchmaker appeared”
• But as if on the wings of wind, Salzman had disappeared.
• Leo was astounded and overjoyed. “How did you get here before me?” and despite of
Leo’s surprise, Salzman just said shortly that he had rushed. (line 6, page 12)
• On page 13: “He perhaps did not know that he had come to a final decision until he
encountered Salzman in a Broadway cafeteria. He was sitting alone at a rear table”
• When Leo was talking with Lily, he felt that Salzman was watching them: page 7, the
first paragraph, line 8)
Salzman not only appears in nights, dark settings, but also appears and disappears suddenly
as if he has magic to go to anywhere in a blink of an eye, he also appears when Leo needs
him as if he was watching Leo.
So, Salzman is the mythical feature in the story.
Conclusion: Salzman is an old man, doesn’t have a good health, and living in poverty. He is not
a trustworthy matchmaker even a trickster. He is materialistic. His life is not happy at all. And
Salzman is also a mysterious commercial cupid.
Love and marriage
Salzman is materialistic, so to him, financial and family status are important than other factors,
such as age, appearance, characteristics.
• “So, what is the difference, tell me, between 27 and 32?”
• “five years don’t mean a thing.”
• And the way he introduces Lily, Sophie to Leo, he always emphasizes financial status. The
way he reads the cards shows how he thinks of the women – his clients. To him those
women are just goods that he sells out to make profit.
• He said “first comes family, mount of dowry, also what kind of promises” “After comes
• He did lie to Lily about Leo’s characters.
So, we can see that his priorities are not age, appearance, or even characters.
To Salzman: because he values material properties more than anything, so marriage is a way
to get rich, to have money, real estate. Marriage is not taken at heart, doesn’t need to have
love and it is just a plan, a calculation, in which he has something from. And marriage is just
a tool, a means, by which he can move up to a better life. Being wealthy is the purpose of an
arranged marriage, as what Salzman thinks of.
To Leo, age and appearance are very much important, more important than being wealthy, or
social status, intelligence, level of learning. To Leo, women like Lily “all past their prime” and
when he looked at Stella’s picture “It gave him the impression of youth—spring flowers, yet
age” (first lines of the final paragraph on page 10) it is said that men love by eyes, and that is
true to Leo.
Leo’s first reason to come to the matchmaker because marriage helps him easier to win himself
So, the purpose is not because he wants to love someone but to be successful in his career as
The second reason is that he was not capable to find a lover,
• “He wondered if it could be…that he did not, in essence, care for the matchmaking
institution?” (the final paragraph on page 4)
• Then “He gradually realized … that he had called in the broker to find him a bride
because he was incapable of doing himself.”
Because he was unconfident about himself, not a rich man, not “a talented religious
person”, not yet a rabbi. He was a rabbinical student, but he came to God because he did not
love God, as Leo confessed.
On page 7, the first paragraph, it described how Leo thinks of Lily: “She was au courant,
animatedly, with all sorts of subjects, and he weighed her words and found her surprisingly
sound” that shows how Leo amazed at Lily’s characteristics, he might feel that he was not as
good, and intelligent as Lily. Lily was more active in the conversation, she gave more
questions, she talked more than Leo-her sentences are usually longer than Leo’s. That is to
say how unconfident he was, and why Leo confessed to himself that he was not capable
to find a girlfriend by himself.
He thinks about and for himself rather than for Stella. To him this relationship with Stella is
just a tool for him to “help him seek whatever he was seeking”.
• On page 10, the final lines of the final paragraph, we will see how selfish Leo was:
• “But before he had finished drinking, again with excitement he examined the face and
found it good: good for Leo Finkle. Only such a one could understand him and help
him seek whatever he was seeking. She might, perhaps, love him.”
Why he wants to be loved so much and at that much? I think the reason is “he saw himself
for the first time as he truly was—unloved and loveless” (on page 8, the paragraph in the middle,
the final lines)
So, to Leo, the relationship with Stella would fulfill his need, his desire to be loved. Because
he lacked love for so long, he wanted someone to love him. As he said: “I know, I know…
I’ve thought of it often. Love, I have said to myself, should be a byproduct of living and
worship rather than its own end. Yet for myself I find it necessary to establish the level of my
need and fulfill it.”
Finally, on the final page. The writer described that: “He pictured, in her, his own redemption.”
(at the end of page 9)
• “the true nature of his relationship to God, and from that it had come upon him, with
shocking force, that apart from his parents, he had never loved anyone. Or perhaps he
went the other way, that he did not love God so well as he might, because he had not
Therefore, Stella was just a tool for Leo to came to God, to be e true religious man, a true
rabbi. And he did it by starting with Stella. Then when he can love a person, he can love God
and be loved by God.
So, to Leo, love and marriage are just a device to get what he wants. At this point, Leo and
Salzman share the common: Despite the differences, Salzman and Leo share the same view
that marriage bases on benefits not love. Marriage is a means that helps them get what they
want, wealth for Salzman, a congregation and need fulfillment, redemption. Marriage is not
taken at love. They are both selfish, they think about and for themselves rather the other.