Page 34 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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plot develops as he creates a world with these elemental figures and
the story takes on a dynamic and logic of its own.
BEN-NER ’S WOMEN
Another writer whose work is highly charged with sexuality is
Yitzhak Ben-Ner. Ostensibly more imitative of life than Orpaz, his
strong realistic stories often pound women down to their basic na­
ture. He exposes the raw emotions of both men and women play­
ing out their primal roles in the context of the village, the army
camp or the lurid city.
An example of this is ’’Nicole,” a story that deals with the guilt
of a colonel who was off in Beersheba with a young woman soldier
when the Yom Kippur War broke out. It teaches of the intense ma­
chismo atmosphere of the Army camp The maleness demanded for
fighting pervades all other realms of living. Although written from
a woman’s point of view, the protagonist Nicole has submitted to
the Army camp expectations and has ceded any other role except
the sensual one. Although Nicole is a good student, she doesn’t go
to the university when she finishes the Army, but she prefers to re-
enlist in order to be together with her officer boyfriend in the
Army camp. It is his involvement with her that brings about his
negligence before the Yom Kippur War and ultimately is respon­
sible for the death of many soldiers.
An intense, masculine, Hemingway-like tone and atmosphere is
found in much of Ben-Ner’s work. It permeates “Village Sunset,”
which is one of his most poignant stories. Aman whose life is deep­
ly bound up with his village defiles it by having an affair with a mar­
ried woman. Little is known about the woman who is Polish and
an outsider. The attraction between the young man, not long out
of the army, and the woman emerges in the hothouse atmosphere
of the agricultural village, of a life tied to the earth. As in the bib­
lical patterns of Rebecca and Rachel, the woman offers the young
man water. She is the “other,” the stranger. They meet as two op­
posites merging. A strong work, there are few accoutrements of
personality and little furnishing of character in Ben-Ner’s depic-