Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Set in a small settlement in a small country, A Perfect Peace is about, for one thing, seeking freedom from containment. One who is unfulfilled at home dreams of magic and beauties to be found in another place; the adventurer wanders; the philosopher propounds and prophesies; the political has-been rages against new generations. The Promised Land is always ahead; the unpromising and undesired one, always current. How to live with the fact of containment—and its claustrophobic consequences for some—is another concern of the novel. The author’s view is likely that of Srulik: to make the best of things. One way to make the best of things is to learn to live with others; the novel demonstrates the possibility of community among mixed peoples, disparate not only in nationalities but also in ideas and life-styles.Kibbutz Granot is a microcosm of Israel, a land struggling to find unity and purpose.

Opposed to Israel’s well-being as a nation are internal political, philosophical and religious factions and, outside, perpetual threats of war. Azariah, a man of peace, prophesies war, but anyone could have done so, for war in Israel is constantly at hand. From the first words of the novel, Oz, with the facts of the modern history of Israel in sight, ironically dramatizes a period of peace before a time of war. The presence of Sheikh Dahr, an abandoned Arab settlement near the kibbutz, is a reminder of past wars and of the likelihood of future ones....

(The entire section is 581 words.)