Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Helping convey the idea of connections among persons and groups are frequent shifts in point of view in the story. These range from the third-person reports of the conversation between Geulah and the goatherd, to the second-person attribution of experience with the nomads (“sometimes you manage to catch them unawares”), to first-person plural that seems initially to be the kibbutz generally but then narrows down to the secretariat and then to the narrator, to direct first-person singular of the narrator, to the fragmented first-person interior of Geulah (“must go now”).

Likewise, numerous ironic reversals of plot and character suggest a link underlying polarities, how something may contain or be transformed into its opposite. Metaphors of the nomads “trickling” and “streaming” northward ironically contrast the drought that drives them, as well as the damage they do to the kibbutz agriculture. The timeless nomads, whose ancientness is symbolized by the “wisdom of age” in their camels, sometimes dress in combinations of primeval robes and patched modern European jackets. They cannot afford cigarettes but have gold cigarette lighters. The poetry of their darkly draped tents and nocturnal music making contrasts with the prosaic damage they bring to the kibbutz.

At the story’s end, an anonymous Bedouin shepherd, who is mentioned in passing early in the story as having been beaten and who is blind in one eye, seems to be the...

(The entire section is 526 words.)