Page 42 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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30
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
this symbolic statement are the figures of the separated husband
and wife, Yehuda and Naomi Kaminka, who, in the course of
A
Late Divorce,
by means of a slow, steady accretion of naturalistic
imagery, are identified with the mythic figures of Father-God
and Mother-Earth until, in the two culminating moments of the
novel, the linkage breaks free of its imagistic implicitness to be­
come explicit and overt. In Naomi’s case this happens in the
book’s penultimate chapter, which is related by her in the first
person. Having just bolted out of the dining room of her mental
hospital, where a communal Seder is being held under the auspi­
ces of an enthusiastic rabbi, and having attemped to call her
daughter Ya’el from the office telephone, she hangs up and
breaks into a demented inner dialogue between what is left of her
rational self and her schizoid alter ego:
. . . already I hear Ya’el voice. “Mother? What’s the matter?
Mother?” That patient piece of putty is calling me but I
hang up and turn to the window how quickly the moon sails
through it I stop my ears I don’t want to hear but I can’t stop
the murmur that rises escaping from deep in the earth.
— They’ll have a terrible accident.
— You’re starting again. Don’t.
— This time they’ll be caught.
— You’ve said that a thousand times and nothing’s ever
happened.
— This time underfoot.
— No. None of your words again.
— Underfoot.
— Underfoot. So underfoot. So what?
— She sings so beautifully. [Naomi schizophrenically im­
agines the male rabbi to be a woman.]
He
does. Don’t say she. I’m warning you.
— No, no, she. You saw yourself all the she there was to­
day. From now on if you’d like there’ll be only she, lots
of she, she everywhere. . .
— You’re out of your mind.
— Lots of she. Even Musa [the male patient who will kill
Yehuda Kaminka] will be a she if you’d like.
— I haven’t the strength for this. I don’t believe it’s hap­
pening. Anything but having to begin this all over
again.