A Life for Israel Critical Essays

Arnold Dobrin


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

For Dobrin, the central question about Golda Meir is not “What did this woman accomplish over the course of her illustrious life and career?” but “What in this woman’s character made it possible for her to accomplish so much?” The emphasis is not on the events themselves, although they are related fully and in glowing terms, but on the internal and interpersonal conflicts that had to be resolved in order for her to fulfill her heroic destiny.

Many of these conflicts involved those people closest to her, and Dobrin highlights and individualizes these conflicts by presenting fictionalized representative scenes. In a conversation with her parents, young Golda explains her desire to continue her education beyond high school and to become a teacher. Her parents scold her and make it clear that they believe a woman’s goal should be marriage, not education. By presenting the scene as a series of direct quotations instead of as reported and explained speech, Dobrin puts the emphasis on the conflict between these particular people, instead of presenting it as a clash of Old World versus New World values, or between parents and children.

This focus on Meir’s own situation, avoiding any hint that her conflicts might be typical, is used throughout the book. For example, Dobrin presents a scene between Golda and Morris at the Merhavia kibbutz after a long day’s work. Golda is exhausted, too tired to gather with the others for supper. Morris...

(The entire section is 587 words.)