Although Peretz distinguishes the differences between all the stories of the people he meets, he is still able to identify with all of them. He finds that each individual has something significant to offer that he wants to share with his readers because both he and his readers will relate to them. In true modernist fashion, Peretz introspectively reflects on these distinctions between people:
“Two separate worlds, a man’s world and a woman’s world—a world of the Talmudic ‘Four Categories of Damages,’ and a world of storybooks, bought by the carton.
When he reads, she falls asleep; when she reads, he falls asleep. It’s not enough that we have different sects, not enough that we classify people according to French noses, English canes, German hunters, Lithuanian pigs, Polish beggars, Eretz Yisrael wanderers, not enough that every part of the body lies in a separate stall and has a different-sounding name, not enough that every one of these parts is further separated into different sections—Hasidim, misnagdim, ‘Germans’—but we are also divided into males and females, so that in each and every narrow, damp, squalid Jewish home there are two distinct worlds.
When he reads, she falls asleep; when she reads, he falls asleep. At the least, I think, we ought to unite the two worlds. It is the debt of every Yiddish writer—but Yiddish writers have too many debts of their own. If only we had some supplement to our income!” (110-111).
This passage directly expresses Peretz’ theme of distinction between people, but in a more progressive manner. Not only does he distinguish between people in a cultural and national light, which creates divisions between all, but he is most concerned with the separation between men and women. In Peretz’ world women were not seen as equal to men: they could not study, barely read for that matter, and were essentially seen as mothers and housewives. For his time, it was very progressive for him to outright state that this separation of worlds is not just. In the modern world that Peretz experiences, he questions why these primitive distinctions are still so socially significant. Even further expressing qualities of Modern thought, Peretz notes that it is the duty of Yiddish writers to diminish this distinction of worlds. He implies that secular writing of the Yiddish culture can transcend these divisions. Although cultural identity persists (which he satirizes with colloquial stereotypes of each nationality), he opines that basic humans, man and woman, should experience one world. In addition to this progressive theme of gender roles creating further distinction between the variety of people on the mail coach, a vehicle of travel, Peretz’ writing style also embodies his Modernist approach. His words in this passage flow with repeated lines that drive home his point. The fluid comparison of nationalities is reminiscent of a painting with opposing strokes hashing a canvas, which finally creates one product. Therefore, Peretz’ Modern style ultimately exemplifies his theme: these distinctions exist, as separate lines and stories show their social importance, yet in the end they comprise one painting. The divisions that peoples’ identities create still exist in one world; a world that Peretz’ sees as a place where progression is possible, and where modern thought can erase lines of distinction.
Peretz, I.L. “In the Mail Coach.” The I.L. Peretz Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Print.