The Bride Price

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Grete Weil was born in 1906 and until the 1930’s thought of herself as a German and not as a Jew. When Hitler’s persecution of German Jews reached their lives, she and her husband emigrated to the Netherlands. When Nazi troops occupied Holland, Edgar Weil was sent to a concentration camp, where he was murdered; Grete Weil survived the war. During the late 1940’s she moved back to her native Bavaria and has remained there since.

Weil, late in her life, has found in the character of Michal, a shadowy figure in the Bible, a means of objectifying her sense of her own heritage. Michal, in Weil’s presentation of her, is a strongly feminist woman. brought together with the shepherd David by her brother Jonathan, who loves both of them, she is David’s passionate lover until her father demands of David the “bride price” of a hundred Philistine foreskins. Horrified when David returns with two hundred bloody penises, she loses all sexual desire; she goes through with the marriage ceremony and still loves David, but she rejects him sexually.

When David is threatened by Michal’s father, King Saul, he flees and promises to send for her, but he does so only many years later, when he has several other wives and several children. By this time, by Saul’s order, she has married again, to an undemanding man whose quiet love she can accept.

Michal’s thoughts, as an old woman, are about her life and her inability to accept Jahwe, the...

(The entire section is 414 words.)