Zelig is a powerful story about generational gaps. Old Zelig lives in the Ghetto of Manhattan who lives to work. He is an anachorism who thinks only in the past, always working, never enjoying life nor reflecting joy to his family. Zelig's wife wails "Our son is ill, ...our grandson is no more a baby; he'll soon need money for his studies. Dark is my would; you are killing both of them." Zelig's son dies which sets into motion Zelig's increased desire to "[sail] back to Russia, 'to die at home at last'". His only desire is to save in order to return to his motherland. Zelig's grandson has quit his studies only to work for Zelig. The grandmother wants him to be able to study to escape the life of poverty Zelig has lived. One of the last lines that adds a happy twist to the story is: "You hate to look at granpa; he is your enemy; eh?"