Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

of Yitzhak Ben-Ner and Yitzhak Orpaz, women are polarized into
their primordial roles by the machismo atmosphere of the Army
and physical labor. But, perhaps, the most interesting pattern we
witness is the portrayal of the Israeli woman as the “feeling center,”
the sensual-emotional underside of the society countering the
male Establishment. Verging on madness, the women are ulti­
mately extensions of the writer, challenging first the original ide­
ologists and then the hard, pragmatic builders of the Jewish State.
As with the figure of the Arab in Hebrew literature, women are
sometimes used as the alienated character whose very being oppos­
es the accepted views.
We see this in vivid form in the writing ofAmos Oz where wom­
en are often seething, sensual, almost demonic creatures represent­
ing an underground of passions, violence and destructiveness. This
image is presented with heavy-handed allegory in Amos Oz’s early
story, “A Hollow Stone.” In what might be perceived as a parable
on Zionism and the building of Israel, Oz depicts Batya Pinski, a
half-mad widow sequestered in her kibbutz room, as the sup­
pressed side of Israeli life. Batya’s husband, Abrasha, who had gone
off years ago to die for Socialism in the Spanish Civil Was, was
driven by the passion of which the Kibbutz was made—passion for
an ideal, while Batya was consumed with sensual passion that was
never fulfilled. Felix, a lesser light than Abrasha, is inspired by his
idealism, developing as does the kibbutz, through efficiency and
normalization. He courts Batya but leaves her when he is humili­
ated by her little daughter. Batya sinks into a fantasy world woven
of the first passions of the kibbutz, while Felix utilizes them creat­
ing the normal, workaday life of the kibbutz. All this remains intact
until the storm that is the point of departure of the story symboli­
cally unearths and exposes the madness of Batya’s underground
world, the other side of Zionist normalcy.
In his more mature work,
My Michael
, Oz draws a deeper psy­
chological portrait using rich symbolic language. One of the finest