Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Singer mentions many of the city’s real streets, including Avenue Dluga, Marshalkowska Boulevard, Alexander Place, and Nalevsky Street. Yasha keeps a small apartment on Freta Street, containing books, antiques, and “his collection of billboards, newspaper clippings and reviews.” It is just large enough for him and his mistress, Magda. Kroleska Street has the apartment in which Yasha’s principal love, the widowed Emilia, lives with her daughter in genteel poverty. Though poor, they keep a servant, own a piano on which the daughter practices daily, have good-quality furnishings, as Emilia’s late husband was a university professor. Singer draws the sharp contrast between her home and that of Zeftel in Piask.
One night, Yasha attempts to burglarize the apartment of a rich landowner on Marshalkowska Boulevard but fails to open the owner’s safe in the dark and hurts his foot while descending from the apartment’s balcony. His failure costs him his girlfriends, profession, and self-respect.
Synagogues. Jewish houses of worship in which several important scenes are set. While traveling by horse-cart to Warsaw, Yasha and Magda are caught in a rainstorm and forced to take shelter in a synagogue. Yasha is Jewish but has not visited a synagogue for years and can scarcely remember the ceremonies, the prayer-shawls, the phylacteries. He takes away a damaged copy of a holy book, then pretends not to be Jewish.
Later, after Yasha bungles his burglary attempt, he again takes shelter in a synagogue. This time he is more humble, noting some familiarity when he sees young men in sidelocks, skullcaps, and sashes studying the Talmud and hears the cantor intoning. He accepts help in donning a prayer-shawl and recalls his promise to his father to remain a Jew.
*Lublin. Rural town in eastern Poland where Yasha owns a house, in which the novel opens and closes. The description suggests a small farm or smallholding, with barns, stables, and fruit trees. Yasha keeps chickens; he is considered a rich man. He has a loving and faithful wife; all he lacks is children.
At the end of the novel Yasha is living in a tiny shed in the courtyard in which he has had himself bricked up; he can communicate with the outside world only through a tiny shuttered window. With no space for a bed, Yasha lies on a straw pallet. He has a chair and a small table but little else; he has not emerged from this cell for three years.
*Piask. Small town on the road to Warsaw from Lublin that is home to two of Yasha’s girlfriends. Magda lives in a house just outside the town with her mother and younger brother. The mother accepts the fact of Magda’s affair with a married man. She welcomes Yasha’s presents of food, and makes no objection to Yasha and Magda sharing a bed in her house. Zeftel’s home is in the town. She is the widow or abandoned wife of a thief who has escaped from prison. She lives in poor circumstances behind the town slaughterhouses.