Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 514
The first of this story’s ten numbered sections provides an overview of a land in transition from summer to fall, as a cool wind cuts through the warm “khamsin” wind. The focus then cinematically changes to Sashka writing at his desk and then to his daughter Galila showering and thinking...
(The entire section contains 514 words.)
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The first of this story’s ten numbered sections provides an overview of a land in transition from summer to fall, as a cool wind cuts through the warm “khamsin” wind. The focus then cinematically changes to Sashka writing at his desk and then to his daughter Galila showering and thinking about an invitation from Matityahu Damkov to visit his room to inspect gifts of artists’ supplies and a pattern requested by Damkov from his cousin Leon in South America.
Sunset spreads over the plain and the kibbutz, overtaking the older, first-generation kibbutzniks (residents) still on their deck chairs. Damkov leaves his room to go to the communal dining hall. Damkov’s body is described, along with his present and former occupations on the kibbutz. Again the story’s roving point of view shifts, this time to Damkov’s worries about whether Galila will accept his invitation.
Kibbutznik behavior at the dining hall is described, including communal discussions and division of the newspaper, as well as Tanya’s complaints to the kibbutz work organizer and then to Damkov about his overdue repair of a lock. As night falls on the kibbutz, generators keep electric searchlights going, and a wary jackal cub is caught in one of the steel traps laid around the kibbutz. The circles of the plowed fields and lights flow into a description of the opposition between the inner circle of founding kibbutzniks, symbolized by the circle of light around Sashka at his writing desk, and the outer circle of second-generation kibbutzniks, represented by the Holocaust refugee Damkov, who is now hosting Galila in his bachelor’s quarters. Damkov prepares imported coffee and makes small talk with Galila, going into sexually suggestive detail about his former horse-breeding job with his cousin Leon in Bulgaria before Damkov fled to Israel and Leon to South America.
Using the first-person plural, the narrator contrasts the founding kibbutzniks with newcomers, such as Damkov, who search for acceptance at all levels, including female companionship. Meanwhile, outside the kibbutz, the captive jackal cub struggles with the trap and a group of bedraggled jackals gathers, exults, sorrows, and disperses.
In Damkov’s room, Galila appreciates the artists’ supplies and sensuously applies brush to canvas. Something not described suddenly happens as a result of sexual “waves” between Galila and Damkov. Damkov summons one of his terrible daydreams; Galila awakens on the floor amid scattered art supplies. When she threatens to tell Sashka about Damkov’s overfamiliarity or even shout out the window, Damkov wrestles with her and sensuously whispers in her ear the secret he has longed to tell her: He claims to be her father, through an affair with her mother, Tanya. Although Galila first argues with him—calling attention to her own blond hair, which is mentioned repeatedly throughout the story—she finally acquiesces.
In contrast to the beginning of the story with the sunset, the story closes with the narrator’s description of sunrise over the land in a transition from summer to fall, and reference to the many eternal cycles that inhere in time and nature.