Um vinter

[In Winter]


The action takes place on a winter’s day in the home of Dvoyre, a widow iliving in a small shtetl in the mountains. As the curtain opens, Dvoyre’s daughters--Roma, 32, and Yulka, 20, are sitting and reading. After talking to their neighbor Yudl about the tough economic times and the previous night’s heavy snows, the women are visited by Mrs. Grossberg, a formerly prosperous woman who now busies herself with matchmaking. Her arrival clearly unsettles all three women, and the daughters leave the room. Mrs. Grossberg tells Dvoyre that a suitor is about to visit Yulka, and when Dvoyre expresses concern about the suddenness of the meeting, the matchmaker urges her to “strike while the iron is hot,” lest her younger daughter go unmarried like her older one has. Mrs. Grossberg also summons the servant to tidy the house. She then gets Yulka and tells her to prepare for the visit, but since Roma is supposed to get married first, she doesn’t know what to do. Mrs. Grossberg tells Yulka that she shouldn’t suffer because Roma was so picky about her suitors that she missed her chance to get married. She sends Yulka out to get ready, and tells Dvoyre that for Yulka’s sake, she’ll have to keep Roma out of sight when the suitor arrives, since if he knows there’s an older, unmarried sister, he’ll never marry the younger one. A moment after Mrs. Grossberg leaves, Roma returns. Dvoyre expresses her sorrow at Roma’s unmarried status, prompting Roma to ask, “If it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother anyone else?” But when Dvoyre points out that Roma’s being unmarried is getting in the way of Yulka getting unmarried, Roma suddenly changes course, declaring, “If I’m to become a bride, then fine; I’ll be a bride…. A suitor is coming today, so fine; I won’t ask who he is, won’t look at him to see whether he pleases me or not. I’ll marry him if that’s what you want.” She apparently means it, because she goes to get dressed to meet the suitor. While Roma is out, Yulka enters, in the midst of getting dressed for the visitor herself. While Dvoyre is helping her, Roma returns, and seeing Yulka, drops her own preparations and tearfully helps her sister. Yulka is torn, but Roma insists, “Your happiness is my happiness.” We hear the suitor outside, and Dvoyre and Yulka greeting him at the door. The neighbor Yudl returns, and he and Roma make small talk, the last line being Yudl’s observation, “It’s getting very cold.”