Study Guide

A Dove of the East

by Mark Helprin

A Dove of the East Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

The title story of Helprin’s first published collection, “A Dove of the East,” is a beautiful story of love and courage set in Israel some years after the 1967 Six-Day War. Leon Orlovsky is a French Jew who has settled in the occupied territory of the Golan Heights and become a scout for a crew of cowboys. His job is to ride ahead of the herd, finding a route to water and fresh forage. He enjoys his work, taking pleasure in the solitude and the harsh beauty of his surroundings despite the persistent threat of Syrian snipers and saboteurs.

One evening, Leon finishes his day with an outburst of wild riding and an unexplained outpouring of emotion ranging from exhilaration to violence to tears. In the morning, he finds a beautiful dove, critically wounded, apparently after having been trampled during Leon’s wild ride of the night before. He decides that he must stay with the bird, to keep it company as it heals or, more likely, dies. Leon wonders why, and how, he can do this for a simple bird, shirking his responsibility to his comrades and exposing himself to ridicule and danger.

A long flashback then tells the story of Leon’s relationship with Ann, with whom he fell in love at first sight (a common occurrence in Helprin’s stories) when both were quite young. They courted, married, and had started on what would seem to be a wonderful life together until the interruption of World War II. Here, as with the Syrian guerrillas in the...

(The entire section is 464 words.)

A Dove of the East Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Alexander, Paul. “Big Books, Tall Tales.” The New York Times Magazine 140 (April 28, 1991): 32.

Keneally, Thomas. “Of War and Memory.” Review of A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin. The New York Times Book Review, May 5, 1991, 1.

Lambert, Craig. “Literary Warrior.” Harvard Magazine (May/June, 2005): 38-43.

Linville, James. “Mark Helprin: The Art of Fiction CXXXII.” The Paris Review 35 (Spring, 1993): 160-199.

“Mark Helprin’s Next Ten Years (and Next Six Books) with HBJ.” Publishers Weekly 236 (June 9, 1989): 33-34.

Max, D. T. “His Horses Used to Fly.” The New York Times Book Review, November 7, 2004, p. 24

Meroney, John. “’Live’ with TAE: Mark Helprin.” The American Enterprise (July/August. 2001): 17-20.

Rubins, Josh. “Small Expectations.” Review of Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin. The New York Review of Books 30 (November 24, 1983): 40-41.

Solotarfoff, Ed. “A Soldier’s Tale.” Review of A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin. The Nation 252 (June 10, 1991): 776-781.