Page 110 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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m o th e r has n ev e r given him love which en co u rag e s in d e p e n d ­
ence. She has failed , A gnon shows with g re a t sub tle ty an d
u n d e r s ta n d in g , to re sp o n d to h e r son ’s em o tiona l needs . She
is m o re in te re s ted in what is ‘seem ly ’ (‘T z im lich ’ is, in fact, M ina’s
fam ily nam e ) th an in w ha t is best fo r H irsh l. As she has no t
loved h e r son, he rem a in s d e p e n d e n t on h e r , an d she can h a n ­
d le him virtually like a piece o f wax. Even tually , she m an ipu la te s
him in to m a r ry in g Mina.
TROUBLED MARR IAGE
T h e m a rr iag e is initially a d isas ter . H irsh l, to rm e n te d by rag e
a t his m o th e r which, ow ing to his d e p e n d e n c e on h e r , he has
n ev e r been able to exp ress , displaces it in his im ag ina tion o n to
Mina. She senses it an d is h o r r if ied , an d she accuses h im o f
w an ting h e r to die. H irsh l den ies h e r accusation , know ing full
well th a t she is righ t, bu t powerless to con tro l his feelings. H e
has no way o f h an d l in g his rage o th e r th a n tu rn in g it on h im self.
H e deve lops an insane fe a r o f s lau g h te r in g roos te rs , a re f lec tion
o f his fe a r o f em ascu la tion (o r o f hav ing been em ascu la ted )
and o f comm itting an act o f violence, no t only aga ins t M ina
bu t also aga ins t him self. T h e n a r r a to r tells us:
A man is not in control when angry. Suddenly he could get up
and kill all the roosters in the world. Hirshl did well to hide
his knife at night.19
He goes m ad , an d when d iscove red rav ing in th e fields n e a r
Buczacz, he p leads pathetically , “D on ’t s lau g h te r me, I ’m no t
a ro o s te r .”20
A t the en d o f the novel, a f te r ex te n d e d t re a tm e n t in an asy­
lum , H irsh l recovers his sanity an d lea rn s to live with his wife
who, in th e m eanwh ile , has given b ir th to a son. Still, he has
no t been fully p u rg e d o f th o ugh ts , p e rh a p s wishes, o f h e r d e a th ,
o r o f y e a rn in g fo r B lum ah :
Hirshl thought, ‘If Mina were to die, Blumah might marry me.’
God forbid that he wanted his wife to die, but what does a wid­
ower do if he does not remarry? As he didn’t know anyone apart
19.
Kol K itve ,
vol. 3, p. 201.
20.
Ibid.,
p. 218.
102
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