Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
disaster. B e ing lost. I was always re scued by powerful men
who saved me only to betray and abuse me.
H ann ah ’s violent un d e rg roun d world is ob sessed by A rab
twins, boys whom she knew as a child. Now, she sees them as
terrorists, lurking in wait to attack from the other side o f the
then-divided city. At the end o f the book H annah , subm itting to
fantasies fed by powerfully destructive erotic-sadistic need s,
dream s that she is lead ing the A rab twins to attack Jew ish J e r u s a ­
lem.
Je ru sa lem o f the fifties, a divided city where the b o rd e r with its
latent violence is never fa r away, re in forces H ann ah ’s vision o f a
world teem ing with sinister forces. She becomes a symbolic coun ­
terpoint to the simplistic vision o f normalization , o f a healthy
p eop le bu ild ing a wholesome nation . H av ing d e p e n d ed on
Michael as her b r idge to the world, the lack o f persona l-sexua l
satisfaction leads her to deep alienation from the society a round
her. It brings her to such a point that in her fantasies she is willing
to make an alliance with the A rab twins to destroy that society,
much as the alienated young watchman in A .B . Y eho shua ’s story
“ Facing the Fore sts” aligns h im self emotionally with the A rabs
that burn down the Jew ish National Fund forest.
In a more recent story, “Th e Hill o f Evil Counse l,” Oz g rap p le s
with yet ano ther variation on this theme o f a dissatisfied woman
swept away by destructive forces. Th is tale o f a mother who run s
o f f with an English adm iral never implicates the re ad e r in the
twisted inner world o f the mother in the same way that “My
Michael” does with Hannah . Cen tering around the veterinarian
Dr. Kipnis, his wife and son in Je ru sa lem under British ru le
before ’48, there are hints throughou t the story o f the m o th er ’s
disaffection from her su rround ing s; the scrubbiness o f the M id­
dle East, the heat, the strangeness, which alienate her from the
ideals o f her hu sband and his cronies.
UNABLE TO AD JU ST
In this haunting tale distanced by its recollective quality, its
historical setting, we witness the cultivated mother who would rise
late in the morn ing and dress in her silk dressing gown at the time
that “other women in the ne ighborhood started beating their
pillows and m attresses with all their m ight.” Pained by the absence