The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Oz’s Hannah Gonen is a cultured, intense young woman whose control of her inner and outer life is in question throughout the narrative. While she succumbs to the chaos of her dreamworld toward the end of the novel, her journal’s remarkable evocation of the past and how it has affected her present life is startling in its precision and psychological realism. This is a testimony to Oz’s narrative skill, which in many ways overshadows the minor plot structure of My Michael. Hannah exemplifies Oz’s consistent thematic concern for the fate of the individual consciousness struggling with rather than embracing the political currents of his or her society. His strategy for highlighting the personal crisis of individual protagonists is what some critics have labeled “Magical Realism,” a juxtaposition of everyday, mundane events with fantasy, dream, or startling metaphor. Here Oz uses this device to lay bare Hannah’s psyche, exposing her innermost thoughts and flights of fancy as clues to her disorientation and paranoia.

The reader first becomes aware that Hannah is not merely cataloging daily occurrences when she begins to allude to latent feelings and vague recollections of a distant past without an accompanying context. Memories of childhood begin to surface quite randomly in her narrative, eventually displacing the chronological structure with which the novel begins. Hannah’s pretentiousness about writing in the journal emerges as a...

(The entire section is 549 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Alter, Robert. Review in The New York Times Book Review. LXXVII (May 21, 1972), p. 5.

Baker, A.T. Review in Time. C (July 3, 1972), p. 63.

Stern, David. “Morality Tale,” in Commonweal. C (July, 1974), pp. 100-101.

Wirth-Nesher, Hana. “The Modern Jewish Novel and the City: Franz Kafka, Henry Roth, and Amos Oz,” in Modern Fiction Studies. XXIV (1978), pp. 91-104.