A Contract With God
Goodreads ratings
4.07 / 5

"A Contract With God" Summary

By Will Eisner

graphic novels | 182 pages | Published in NaN

Through a quartet of four interwoven stories, A Contract With God express the joy, exuberance, tragedy, and drama of life on the mythical Dropsie Avenue in the Bronx. This is the legendary book that launched a new art form and reaffirmed Will Eisner as one of the great pioneers of American graphics.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A collection of four interconnected stories exploring themes of faith, morality, and the human experience in a Bronx tenement.

A Contract With God by Will Eisner: A Graphic Novel Masterpiece


"A Contract With God" is a groundbreaking graphic novel by Will Eisner, often credited as the father of the modern graphic novel. First published in 1978, this collection of four interconnected stories explores the lives of ordinary people living in a tenement building in the Bronx during the Great Depression. Through its stunning artwork and poignant storytelling, Eisner delves into themes of faith, morality, and the human condition.

Brief Synopsis

Set in the Bronx's fictional tenement neighborhood during the 1930s, "A Contract With God" opens with the eponymous first story, where Frimme Hersh, a religious man, laments the loss of his daughter to a deadly disease. Feeling betrayed by God, Frimme tears up his Torah and declares a "contract" with God, vowing to live a life of sin. This story sets the tone for the rest of the book, exploring the struggles and tragedies of the characters who inhabit the tenement building.

The subsequent stories revolve around different residents of the tenement, such as a young girl's search for love, an artist's struggle with success and failure, and a Jewish man's confrontation with anti-Semitism. Each story is interconnected, with characters appearing in multiple narratives, further highlighting the shared experiences and challenges faced by the community.

Main Characters

Frimme HershA religious man who feels betrayed by God after the death of his daughter.
RosalieA young girl searching for love and validation.
WillieAn aspiring artist grappling with the pursuit of success in the art world.
Jacob ShtarkahA Jewish man facing anti-Semitism and the challenges of his identity.

Summary of Different Story Points over Chapters

"A Contract With God"

Frimme Hersh, devastated by the loss of his daughter, tears up his Torah and renounces his faith. He embarks on a life of sin, hoping to prove that God does not exist. However, he soon realizes that his actions have unintended consequences.

"The Street Singer"

Rosalie, a young girl, dreams of finding true love. She becomes infatuated with a street singer who promises her a better life. However, her pursuit of love leads her down a dangerous path.

"The Super"

Willie, an aspiring artist, struggles to make a name for himself in the art world. Despite his talent, he faces constant rejection and frustration, forcing him to confront his own ambitions and the sacrifices he is willing to make.


Jacob Shtarkah, a Jewish man, encounters anti-Semitism and discrimination in his daily life. He must navigate the challenges of his identity while facing the harsh reality of prejudice and bigotry.

Main Events

  • Frimme Hersh tear up his Torah and renounces his faith.
  • Rosalie's infatuation with the street singer leads to a tragic outcome.
  • Willie's continuous struggle for recognition in the art world.
  • Jacob Shtarkah's encounters with anti-Semitism and discrimination.

Themes and Insights

  1. Faith and Morality: Eisner explores the complex relationship between faith, morality, and the human condition. Frimme Hersh's contract with God forces readers to question the nature of belief and the consequences of abandoning one's faith.
  2. Love and Loneliness: The characters in "A Contract With God" grapple with feelings of love and loneliness. Rosalie's search for love and Willie's pursuit of success highlight the universal longing for connection and validation.
  3. Identity and Discrimination: The stories in the book shed light on the challenges faced by individuals who belong to marginalized communities. Jacob Shtarkah's experiences with anti-Semitism and discrimination emphasize the importance of acceptance and understanding.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Contract With God" is a powerful and thought-provoking graphic novel that challenges conventional storytelling norms. Will Eisner's masterful artwork and storytelling techniques invite readers to explore profound themes of faith, love, and identity. This graphic novel serves as a timeless reminder of the human experience and the complexities of life.


"A Contract With God" by Will Eisner is a seminal work in the world of graphic novels. Through its interconnected stories and stunning artwork, Eisner delves into the lives of ordinary people living in the Bronx during the Great Depression. This thought-provoking book explores themes of faith, love, and discrimination, leaving readers with a deeper understanding of the human condition. "A Contract With God" is a must-read for graphic novel enthusiasts and anyone seeking a profound and captivating storytelling experience.

A Contract With God FAQ

  1. Who is the author of 'A Contract With God'?

    The author of 'A Contract With God' is Will Eisner.

  2. What is the genre of 'A Contract With God'?

    'A Contract With God' is a graphic novel.

  3. When was 'A Contract With God' first published?

    'A Contract With God' was first published in 1978.

  4. What is the main theme of 'A Contract With God'?

    The main theme of 'A Contract With God' is the exploration of human nature and moral dilemmas.

  5. How many stories are included in 'A Contract With God'?

    'A Contract With God' consists of four interconnected stories.

  6. Is 'A Contract With God' suitable for all ages?

    'A Contract With God' is recommended for mature readers due to its adult themes and content.

  7. Is 'A Contract With God' based on a true story?

    No, 'A Contract With God' is a work of fiction.

  8. What is the page count of 'A Contract With God'?

    'A Contract With God' has a page count of 224 pages.

  9. Has 'A Contract With God' won any awards?

    Yes, 'A Contract With God' won the Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album of Original Work in 1993.

  10. Is 'A Contract With God' part of a series?

    No, 'A Contract With God' is a standalone graphic novel.