I only wish I could more faithfully paint her lovely use of language. The real Hilda was a highly regarded research chemist, supremely educated and voraciously well read. The fictional Hilda shares her Yiddish cooking skills, turns of phrase in both Yiddish and German, and her inability to master spoken English well enough to be perceived as well educated.
People usually described Hilda as cute, in the Nana sense of the word. Little did many realize how incredibly sharp was the intellect of the stooped little old lady in the less-than-charming housedress.
Her mind could compete with her cleaver any day!
I’m glad you like her, Kurt, because she’s certainly my favorite character of all of them in the novel.