Elsewhere, Perhaps Summary
Elsewhere, Perhaps is set in the Israeli kibbutz of Metsudat Ram, which is located within sight—and gunshot—of the disputed Israeli-Jordanian border. Through the course of the seasons the members of the kibbutz go about their affairs, traveling through passages of life and death, change and continuity that are particularly Israeli yet universally human. The unnamed narrator of the novel is obviously one of the settlers at Metsudat Ram, and the reader also comes to enjoy at least honorary membership in the commune.
The action in Elsewhere, Perhaps is deceptively slow-paced, with a rhythm that echoes natural cycles. As befits a novel about Jewish characters, many of whom are survivors of the Holocaust or who are descended from the original generation of Israelis, memory and past events play a large part in the book. Persons and their actions are scrutinized, puzzled over, teased into meaning. As a character remarks, “I’m not a wise man, but I do know how to think. If you think the same thought a hundred times, it ends up by being very refined.”
Reuven Harish, the book’s central character, has much about which to think. Years earlier his wife, Eva, ran away with a cousin who was visiting the kibbutz. Ironically, and symbolically, Reuven has now assumed the position of tour guide as well as teacher for the commune. When not teaching he writes poetry, for which he is well-known, and he struggles with rearing his children, Noga and Gai.
After his wife’s departure, Reuven’s friendship with Bronka Berger gradually ripened into a love affair. At the same time, Bronka and her husband, Ezra, silently drifted apart, neither daring to admit openly what both knew privately. Now Ezra takes on double duty as a driver to deliver the kibbutz’s fruit to Tel Aviv; that way, he is seldom at home and can avoid confronting his wife or facing the situation.
Rami Rimon, Noga’s boyfriend, struggles to convince himself and others of his manhood. Although sensitive and caring, he tries to disguise these qualities, believing them to indicate weakness on his part. When his feigned roughness and attempts at lovemaking are rejected and mocked by Noga, Rami enlists in the army, full of self-pity and thoughts of a hero’s death.
In the meantime, Noga has begun to spend time with Ezra, and their originally innocent meetings develop into a love affair which parallels that of Bronka and Reuven. Ezra gives Noga the nickname, Turquoise, because she originally asked him to bring her back some thread of that color from one of his trips. By the time of the summer...
(The entire section is 664 words.)