Page 150 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

Basic HTML Version

unbu rdened . Menashke is controlled and restra ined , and
Rahamim is free in his speech, gestures, and laugh ter. And one
fu r th e r set o f contrasts should be added: Menashke is middle
class, Ashkenazi, ambivalent, and desperate af te r leaving Kfar
Giladi, while Rahamim is a “primitive” (especially in speech),
Sephardi, trusting in God, a Jerusa lem ite bearing palm fronds,
and rid ing on a donkey. Menashke is all too hum an ; Rahamim
reverberates with quasi-messianic qualities.7
T he contrast is drawn all th rough the story. It is reflected, for
example, in the story’s structure and time o f narra tion : Rahamim
relates lengthy anecdotes, bu t Menashke only emits an interm it­
tent b r ief question o r response. T he contrast is seen also in the
mode o f discourse used in the narration : Raham im’s adventures
are p resen ted in indirect monologue, which is close to imitated
speech, while Menashke’s though ts are rende red directly by the
narra to r . Furtherm o re , Menashke’s depiction remains totally
static th roughou t, with no additions o f descriptive detail given
while he speaks or listens to the po rter; but Rahamim is constantly
accompanied by gestures and elaborate similes which accentuate
the physicality o f his external description.
In summary, “Rahamim ha-sabal” is based upon the polarized
depiction o f two imm igrant types; the story is struc tu red on a con­
tinual contrasting o f the characters’ physical and emotional
dimensions. Without an understand ing o f this polarized
presentation , constituted mainly by conventions o f realistic
depiction, a p rop er understand ing o f the meaning expressed by
the story is impossible. It is precisely the blatant, physical attrib­
utes o f Rahamim — his smile and his face — which calm
Menashke and distract him from his feelings o f frustra tion and
melancholy. T he concrete, physical aliya to Erets Yisrael is
difficult, traumatic; but in spite o f it all, and, in g rea t measure,
due to Raham im’s solicitude, Menashke will overcome the
trauma. This message o f eventual adjustment and accommoda­
tion is the main idea expressed in “Rahamim ha-sabal.”8
Many aspects o f the analysis and in terpre tation o f “Rahamim
ha-sabal” may be somewhat transparen t. But the main point of
7 Cf. D. Sadan,5*>m
Din Le-heshbon
(1963), pp. 246 -247 .1am indebted to Sadan
for his insightful comments on these contrasting characters. On other aspects
of the story see B.Y. Michali./Za^im
Hazaz: Iyunim Bitsirato
(1968), pp. 95-107.
8 For a full discussion of the story in the context of Hazaz’s works o f the late
twenties and early thirties see
Ideas in Fiction
, pp. 60-64.