The Manor

Title: The Manor

Author: Isaac Bashevis Singer

Publication Date: 1967

Genre: Fiction

Page Length: N/A


The Manor, written by Isaac Bashevis Singer and published in 1967, is a captivating work of fiction that transports readers to pre-war Poland, immersing them in a vivid story focused on the lives and struggles of various characters within a traditional Jewish household.

Plot Summary:

Part I: The Family

Set in the fictional Polish town of Chmielnik, Part I introduces readers to the Breslov family who reside in a picturesque manor. The patriarch of the family, Reb Avrom Yizchok, is a religious scholar and widely-respected community leader. He is married to a devout and traditional wife, known as Rebekah. Together, they have three children: Ruchele, Shmuel, and Moishe.

Within this section, Singer offers an intimate portrayal of daily life in the Breslov household. The family dynamics are explored, relationships are established, and the core values of the Jewish faith are highlighted. The author illustrates the struggle between tradition and modernity faced by the children as they grow up in a rapidly changing world.

Part II: The Tenement

Part II shifts the focus from the manor to a cramped tenement building in Warsaw. Ruchele, the eldest daughter, marries a young scholar named Hanan and moves to the city with him. Trying to adhere to her husband’s strict religious views, she clashes with her less observant neighbors. At the same time, Ruchele begins questioning her own beliefs and the suffocating weight of religious expectations.

Singer intricately weaves the narrative through Ruchele’s adjustmen ts to city life and her intellectual journey. As the specter of World War I looms large, the author explores themes of identity, faith, and the search for personal fulfillment in a rapidly changing society.

Part III: The Wedding

In Part III, Shmuel, the second son of Reb Avrom, gets married to Shaindel – a young woman from a traditional family. The wedding becomes an intricate showcase of Jewish customs and traditions, vividly portrayed by Singer. However, the celebration becomes overshadowed by the aforementioned World War, causing tremendous upheaval in the lives of the characters.

The author delves deeper into the complexities of religious life, societal changes, and the clash between tradition and progress. Singer’s skilled storytelling captures the delicate balance between maintaining cultural heritage and adapting to a world teetering on the brink of chaos.

Part IV: The Great Migration

The final section of the book, Part IV, sees Moishe, the youngest son of the Breslov family, making the decision to emigrate to America. This marks the end of an era for the family, as the manor is sold and the characters disperse to find new lives in different lands. The socio-political turmoil, accentuated by the outbreak of World War II, forms the backdrop for the characters’ departures.

Singer skillfully concludes the narrative, leaving readers with a sense of loss, resilience, and the cyclical nature of life itself. Themes of hope, adaptation, and the struggle to preserve one’s cultural heritage resonate throughout the novel.

Character Analysis:

Reb Avrom Yizchok: The patriarch of the Breslov family, a strong and devout figure who acts as a community leader and religious scholar.

Rebekah: Reb Avrom’s wife, a deeply religious woman known for her observance of Jewish traditions.

Ruchele: The eldest daughter, who undergoes personal and intellectual growth as she grapples with her faith and the changing world around her.

Shmuel: The second son who experiences the challenges of finding love and maintaining religious observance in an evolving society.

Moishe: The youngest son, who seeks a fresh start in America amid the turbulent times preceding World War II.


1. Tradition versus Modernity: The clash between adherence to religious customs and the desire for personal freedom and exploration.

2. Identity: The search for individual identity within the confines of a religious and cultural community.

3. Adaptation: The challenges faced by characters as they navigate a rapidly changing world and attempt to preserve their core values.


The Manor provides readers with an intimate portrayal of Jewish life in pre-war Poland, offering a glimpse into the struggles, triumphs, and dynamics of a traditional Jewish household. Isaac Bashevis Singer’s work presents a profound exploration of faith, tradition, and the impact of societal changes on individuals and their communities. As a classic work of fiction, this novel serves as a valuable educational resource, inviting readers to reflect on the complexities of cultural heritage and the human experience in times of uncertainty.