This story is sad but told in a humorous way that you cannot help but smile all the way through it. The author begins first by relating his story with that of King Solomon, who after being fooled by Ashmodai, the King of the demons, removed his ring of which he had been warned never to remove by his father King David. As a result of this, the once rich and powerful king is thrown out of his kingdom and into abject poverty never to return to his glory again.
This in a way symbolizes what happens to Joel. He never ever takes his health seriously and ends up losing his voice which was his selling point. This is after he develops thyroid cancer without his knowledge since it seems he never frequented the doctor for any checkups. He even has guts to mock his wife tally saying that her motto was cancer until proven otherwise.
Every character in this story plays a very important role. There are some characters in the story though who contribute significantly to the plot of the narrative. One such character is Joel’s father whose name is not given. Joel’s father was not a storyteller neither did he have time to tell stories to his children “I can’t say I grew up in a home filled with stories…” (Izzy 5). Joel’s father spent most of his time working to try making ends meet for his family “and my parents’ time was spent trying to keep our world from crumbling, as they struggled against poverty and my father’s failing health”( Izzy 5). Joel’s father contributes to the plot of this story by the fact that his health was failing. His failing health is the reason why Joel is inspired to begin telling stories. The turning point comes when Joel was in the supermarket with his mother. Joel notices his mother’s misery as she had just learned that Joel’s father would need to go to hospital for another operation (Izzy 5). With nothing better to do to lift his mother’s spirits, Joel decides to make his mother laugh even though for one moment. He goes ahead to liken the eggplant in the produce section with Nixon which brightens the mother’s face that she momentarily forgets of her worries. This is when Joel makes a resolution to be collecting stories and jokes and presenting them to his family every now and then and especially when they visited the father in hospital. Joel’s father also helps to bring out the theme of poverty especially by his desperation to receive one life changing call as Joel describes it.
Joel’s wife Taly is also a very important character in Joel’s story. It is her who motivates Joel to carry on with his career even after she had discouraged him on the very first day they met. The proverb that a blessing could be a curse and a curse a blessing keeps resonating in this narrative. Taly discouragement can be seen as a curse but which later turns out to be a great blessing as Joel and her end up raising up a nice and happy family in a good family house away from the suburbs. She is the one who even worries more of Joel’s health than Joel himself. When Joel wakes up with a swollen toe, she insists that Joel should see the doctor of which Joel argues against saying the swelling would go away as soon as it came. She brings out the theme of perseverance as she sticks around the husband even after she learns that Joel could be deprived of his source of livelihood.
The famous Jewish proverb is evident at the end of the story as the once gift of storytelling is turned into a curse when Joel loses his voice. This too is turned into a blessing as he discovered the art of storytelling through the written word.
The character I mostly relate with most is Joel’s father. It was through his misfortune of failing health that Joel discovered his gift of storytelling. Joel’s father suffering enables Joel to get his livelihood which may be would have been a completely different story. He truly discovers his secret of happiness.
Izzy, Joel. The Beggar King and the Secret of happiness. USA: Paperback, 2005. Print.