Chaim tells his story in first person and describes his encounters with different individuals in a mail coach. He has a very difficult time understanding the views and ideologies of these people. Peretz explores these two separate worlds: one of the man and one of the woman.
As the story reads, it seems as if Chaim speaks of his wife as if he did not know her very well for he doesn’t even know how educated she is. However, he is aware of the fact that she has a burning desire to read Talmud because that is how he was occupying his time. “She begged me, she cried, she swooned, she carried on for so long that I finally gave in. I used to translate a page of Gemara for her each evening, but I knew from the beginning how it would end” (109). Most men at the time, were intolerant of women being educated. Chaim, on the other hand, gives into her request and begins reading a page of the Gemara to her each night, even though he could already foresee the outcome. Peretz notes that every time Chaim reads to his wife, she falls asleep. The way Peretz presents that piece is extremely interesting to me. At first he leads you to believe that change is possible, that women can read Gemara just as men can. However, he then refutes that point by saying that Chaim’s wife found these texts boring. Therefore, we see that both Chaim and his wife were not yet ready for movement because they didn’t quite understand how to live in this world together.
Through the introduction of the book, we understand that Peretz is a Modernist and assumes that Jews will have to change with the times and integrate into a humanistic culture. He focuses on the issues that people face having been brought up in one way of life and then having to invent another.
In this short story, Peretz highlights the struggles of a young married couple who live in the same house, but think in two completely distinct and different spaces.
Peretz, I.L. “In the Mail Coach.” The I.L. Peretz Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Print.