Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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is almost idolizingly drawn to Yonatan’s masculinity and self-
confident resourcefulness, while Yonatan, though the newcomer
at first merely amuses him and even arouses in him some macho
aggression, gradually comes to consider him the one sufficiently
sensitive person on the kibbutz to confide in. Gradually, too,
Azariah begins to spend more and more time with Yonatan and
Rimona until he has practically moved in with them in an uncon­
menage a trois.
This indeed is Yonatan’s plan, for he has
secretly decided that before leaving Rimona he must provide her
with a substitute husband, and Azariah has been chosen for the
role. At the end of Part I of the book the triangular relationship
among them reaches an orgiastic sexual climax.
Part II of A
Perfect Peace
begins with Yonatan’s long-dreamt-of
departure. Yet instead of flying to Europe or America as he had
always imagined, he impulsively sets out in the other direction,
into the desert, with the intention of illegally crossing the border
into Jordan and visiting the famed Nabatean ruin of Petra, the
“rose-red city, half as old as time” that is hidden in a valley of the
Wilderness of Edom. (The dangerous trip to Petra was once con­
sidered in Israel to be the ultimate in daredeviltry, a kind of
“Everest-climbing” in which the danger was death not by falling
or freezing but at the hands of Bedouin and Jordanian army
patrols.) Before long the unconsciously suicidal nature of the ad­
venture begins to be apparent, for Yonatan starts out for Petra
alone, with inadequate knowledge of the terrain, and worst of all,
on a night of the full moon, when he can easily be seen from afar
in the treeless desert. Soon indeed the moon rises:
There was a soft, cushioned, preternatural light. A shud­
der ran over the tops of the mountains. Huge, red and in­
flamed the moon loomed over the ridges of Mount Seir. All
at once the world was transformed. Ribbons of brilliance
snaked down the dark slopes. Eddies of light rippled over
the flat ground below them. A dead silver flowed silently
over the dead earth. The outlines of the hills were bared.
Here and there a black rock stood out in the bed of the
wadi; here and there a bush that was up to no good glittered
darkly. In vain Yonatan quickened his steps: the faster he