How do each of the characters try to escape from reality (hallucination, war memories, nightmares, and etc)? For instance, they drink, take sleeping peels, and lies.

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The characters are unable to readjust to living in a society where others not involved in the Holocaust go about their lives in a trivial manner. Those who survived the Holocaust will never be able to love since they can no longer have the faith and trust a person needs to truly love another person. Their relationships are obsessive and destructive because they have been scarred for the rest of their lives.

Herman Broder, the main character, survived in a hayloft of a non-Jewish, Polish servant, Yadwiga, who he later marries in America. He has no idea of what happened to Tamara, his wife, and believes she is dead. Once in America, he has an affair with Masha, another Holocaust survivor, and marries her when she gets a divorce.  He ends up married to the three women in his life, when Tamara, alive and well, shows up in New York. Herman loses his faith in God and drops out of activities in his community. He becomes a cheat, a swindler, and a liar. He tries to escape reality through his multiple marriages and his isolation from participating in society.

Herman's first wife, Tamara, has also turned against her faith and is now involved with Communism, Zionism, and feminism. Her escape is to involve herself in so many causes that she won't have time to consider what has happened.

Masha, a Holocaust survivor also, is a prostitute and a cheat. She pretends to be pregnant to get Herman to marry her. Her inability to escape reality leads her to suicide.

Read the study guide:
Enemies: A Love Story

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