Page 149 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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against the whole state o f affairs. But his complaining was
only half-hearted. Like it or not, he possessed a grea t love
for the Land and a grea t love o f the Hebrew language. And
since his complaints were no more than half-hearted , he
complained all the more, denying everything and
destroying everything in though t without getting anywhere,
and ju s t making himself uncomfortable, (p. 215f)
In contrast to Menashke, when Rahamim the po r te r arrives
upon the scene, he appears to be at peace with the world, sporting
“a smile o f satisfaction and wonder” which recurs th roughou t the
He was a short individual with thick black eyebrows, a beard
like a thicket, his face brigh t as a copper pot and his chest
uncommonly virile and broad. He was dressed in rags and
tatters, ren t upon ren t and patch upon patch, a rope girded
a round his loins and a basket o f reeds in fron t o f him on the
donkey’s back. (p. 216)
In the story’s exposition the na r ra to r points out tha t Rahamim
also has undergone certain travails in his life, including a great
d isappointment immediately upon his arrival in Palestine: the
Jewish Legion, which Rahamim hoped to jo in , had ju s t dis­
banded. Therefo re , Rahamim, like Menashke had also lived
through a traum a based on the paradoxes o f history and individ­
ual experiences. The difference, however, between the two char­
acters is first and foremost in the ir physical dimensions: “lean as a
pole” vis-a-vis “short and stocky”; a face “seamed and sickly-
looking” vis-a-vis a face “brigh t as a copper pot”; a mouth
“unusually fleshy and red ” vis-a-vis a chest “uncommonly virile
and b road”; eyes “discontented and disparaging” vis-a-vis the
smile “o f satisfaction and wonder.” These physical differences, of
course, are the external signs o f the contrasting personalities:
One is depressed, the o ther optimistic; one an aimless wanderer,
the o the r settled, employed and apparently happy; one quiet, the
o ther talkative; one embittered, the o ther smiling; one in tro­
verted and contained, the o the r open and gregarious; one
preoccupied, immersed in introspection, the o the r outgoing and