Page 74 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
displays great interest in authentic Jewish existence, and wants to
go to Israel (taking the reluctant and nonplussed Rosemary with
him).
CONTRASTING OUTLOOKS
The reader is in effect not presented with a challenge to Jud a ­
ism from the outside but rather with a contrast between two ver­
sions of Jewishness — the Frieman perception and Bernard’s. As
far as the novel is concerned, it is Rosemary who is presented with
the options. In her immaturity she does not choose decisively.
She wants Bernard and loves him, but she is reluctant to give up
her familiar comforts. As for life in Israel, that possibility seems
too eccentric for words! Bernard is persuaded to go to Israel, ini­
tially alone, to test conditions and then to send for her if all goes
well. O f course, anything might happen. He might find that
Israel is an intolerable scene, and that he has been investing it
with imaginary and wondrous properties from afar. He may dis­
cover how much he misses England. In the event, there is an
unexpected denouement. Bernard is killed on a kibbutz by
marauding Arabs in a border incident. So it seems that Rose­
mary, who in the meantime discovers that she is pregnant, could,
in theory, be free of that particular, agonizing decision. And here
is where the surprise occurs. In spite o f the encompassing
warmth offered by her former environment, she decides to go
and live on the kibbutz where Bernard was killed. This is pres­
ented as her first authentically autonomous decision. She does
not decide in the way that Bernard had decided and in keeping
with his Zionist sympathies. Israel had never represented that
sort of thing to her. She makes her decision now as one who loved
Bernard, who is to bear his child, and, above all, as someone who
has become a woman. As a woman, she can now survey the scene,
which includes her parents’anger and ineffectuality, more objec­
tively, more sanely, and, as the closing words have it, also “feel
pity” for them and for those things that she intends to jettison.
The typology is familiar. The family has a dominant head, a
compliant wife and divergent children. (Rosemary’s bro ther is
more conformist and accepting than she is.) As with Leo in
The
crossing point,
Bernard here is both insider and outsider. As
insider, he is Jewish, appreciative of Jewish quality although he
seeks an intensification of its virtue through association with