Page 170 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

Basic HTML Version

1 5 8
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
. A heavy silence wraps itself around the village and the fields, a
silence no one dares to disrupt. The story concludes with a pow­
erful biblical allusion to the destruction of Sodom and on a note
of disillusionment concerning God’s role in such events.
CRITICAL REACTION
Many have taken Yizhar to task for allowing his central charac­
ters to wallow in indecision and uncertainty. One critic con­
demned both stories for the “journalistic” approach which tends
to highlight external detail and seeks to sensationalize, rather
than delve into the motivations which underlie character.11 For
had Yizhar depicted the ingenuous character more skillfully and
conscionably, such critics maintain, he would not have emerged
so torn and ambivalent. Indeed, it is symptomatic of all Yizhar’s
characters to be so detached from the issues which render life so
complex and bewildering, as to render them for the most part
naive and wistful.
In many ways
Ha-Shavuy
and
Hirbet H iz’ah,
unquestionably
Yizhar’s best known and most explicit compositions, may be cred­
ited for allowing readers to gain greater insight to the characters
which appear in the earlier, more elaborate stories. Based on the
tenable assumption that most central characters were essentially
cloned from Efraim, Yizhar’s first hero, what impeded a full view
of them was the excessive overlay of structural elements, a ram­
bling syntax and a somewhat pretentious level of vocabulary.
However, in both of the above stories, by merely drawing atten­
tion to plot and to a definable moral issue, Yizhar has almost un ­
wittingly exposed the very core of his quintessential character,
thus allowing the reader a unique, unrestricted view of what has
made Efraim and every other main character since then, tick.
The men in Yizhar’s stories are dedicated individuals, each of
whom exhibits a kind of selfless idealism in the form of action in
which he engages. Yet, inwardly, every one of those men seems
tethered to a particular moment in his distant past which pre­
vents him from fully being at one with his act; thus frustrating
and emotionally crippling him.
For the purpose of revealing character from within, the central
figure in Yizhar’s stories is usually presented as being cut off
11 B.Y. Mikhali in
Massah ufulmus
(Ramat-Gan, 1973), pp. 116-146.