Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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The body o f the woman hiking near you
Was not meant for hikes and wars.
Her thighs become heavy.
They are like a tired herd o f sheep.
You are filled with great happiness.
For the world where woman are so.”
Mother then, is not the ideological fulcrum of the writer’s con­
sciousness. She might, as in another of Amichai poems, lift her
hands as an old windmill in quixotic defiance to cry out to the
Heavens, but she doesn’t translate this into ideological furor. Rath­
er, she continues in her domestic task preparing bread, measuring
the world by her family attentions, their pictures and letters.
We see this traditional portrayal of women in many works of
contemporary fiction as well. In the panorama of figures in the late
Yaakov Shabtai’s
Past Continuous
, Tzipporah stands out as an en­
dearing image of the traditional woman. So does the grandmother
in Aharon Appelfeld’s “As An Apple ofHis Eye.”Applefeld’s novel,
The Age o f Wonders,
presents us with a more elaborate portrayal. It
depicts aJewish family in Austria before World War II that is com­
pelled to live under increasingly circumscribed conditions. The
young protagonist of the book struggles with the assimilationist
views of his Jewish, self-hating father. In the pre-Holocaust situa­
tion, in which affirmation or denial of one’s identity is almost the
only choice left in a world where action is closed toJews, the father
chooses to deny his origins. The mother, on the other hand, comes
through as a minor hero, a traditional type ofwoman affirming self
through good works.
In addition to the traditional image of women as the strong, but
self-effacing, nurturing mother and companion to husband, wom­
en are depicted in two other important ways in contemporary Is­
raeli literature. We have seen Amichai’s vision of woman as an
object of love, an alternative to and refuge from war. In the work
Images o f Women