Breaking The Pig by Etgar Keret, 2001
The magic trick:
Having the father thinking he’s teaching the son a certain lesson but then having the boy learn a totally different lesson in the process
I’m tempted to say the magic trick in this brief but wonderful story is having the child name his piggy bank Margolis after the man who used to live in the family’s apartment (the label on the mailbox wouldn’t peel off). That’s pretty good. But let’s get more general. The story begins with the father attempting to teach his son about hard work, restraint and budgeting. The son follows the lesson to a tee, but lo and behold, he learns a lesson of a totally different kind. And that’s quite a trick on Keret’s part.
Margolis isn’t like my other toys, he’s much calmer, without lights and springs and batteries that leak. Only you have to watch that he doesn’t jump off the table. “Margolis, be careful! You’re made of porcelain,” I remind him when I catch him bending down a bit and looking at the floor, and he smiles at me and waits patiently for me to take him down myself. I love it when he smiles; it’s only because of him that I drink the cocoa with the skin every morning, so that I can push the shekel into his back and watch how his smile doesn’t change at all. “I love you, Margolis,” I tell him afterwards. “Honest, I love you more than Mom and Dad. And I’ll always love you, no matter what, even if you break into candy stores. But don’t even think of jumping off the table!”
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