Leon Uris says of his characters, “All the cliche Jewish characters who have cluttered up our American fiction . . . have been left where they rightfully belong, on the cutting-room floor.” “Exodus,” he continues, “is about fighting people, people who do not apologize either for being born Jews or the right to live in human dignity.” Indeed, the characters are not cliche Jewish types. They are, however, stock characters from melodrama. The principals are unwaveringly heroic. They have no moments of self-doubt, no fear of defeat, no gray areas of mixed good and bad traits, no moral dilemmas. The Jews are all good, loyal, honest, intelligent, brave, devoted, generous, and self-sacrificing. They are also clever and intrepid soldiers who outwit the British and Arabs, who invent lethal weapons and original strategies which overcome the forces and arms of their enemies. They place the good of Israel ahead of any personal considerations or ambitions.
Ari and Jordana most clearly personify these characteristics: Both repress their emotions and dedicate themselves to fighting. Their foils are the people they love. Jordana’s beloved David Ben Ami is a scholar and an archaeologist whose delight is in research and study. He is caught up in the needs of Israel and serves in the Haganah; he is not, however, a soldier with the icy control of Jordana or Ari. His love for Jerusalem leads him into a rash maneuver which is fatal. Kitty, beloved of Ari, shrinks from battles, bloodshed,...
(The entire section is 613 words.)