Reuven Harish (originally Harismann), the most complex figure in the book, who seems to assume many different character roles. This diversity may be governed by the intellectual distance that separates him from the simpler, earthier image of most of the other characters. He is not only a poet but also a principal teacher responsible for the educational program within the kibbutz. A second aspect of Harish’s existence is his function as guide for tourists who visit Kibbutz Metsudat Ram. Through Harish, the novel reveals the totality not only of the social and material foundations of kibbutz life but also of its inner emotional experiences. Having lost his wife to an urbane lover (and cousin) who, after a brief visit to Kibbutz Metsudat Ram, took her back to the material comfort and moral decadence of postwar Germany, Harish accepts the modest responsibility of caring for his two children. Although he is hurt by the loss of his wife, he finds solace and carnal satisfaction, but no real emotional security, in the plain person and austere home environment of Bronka Berger, the wife of a rough-hewn truck driver, with whom he shares secret hours.
Noga Harish, also called Stella Maris (for her maternal grandmother) and Turquoise, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Reuven. Because of her lithe body and skills as a dancer, Noga is chosen to play the part of the fertile vine in an important annual kibbutz ceremonial celebration. There are at least two mysterious sides to young Noga. One suggests a reflection in her of the lascivious charms of her mother, who caused scandal in the kibbutz by abandoning her husband and two children to run off with another man. The other is a childlike image that is apparent in the first stage of her relationship with truck driver Ezra Berger, who does small favors for her. This latter image disappears as Ezra not only becomes her lover but also causes her to become pregnant. Eventually, after taunting, then shunning, her original suitor, the young Rami Rominov, Noga returns not to their love but to the symbol of kibbutz community continuity that their union seems to represent.
Ezra Berger, a truck...
(The entire section is 914 words.)