Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The story’s point of view shifts often and sometimes abruptly, ranging from first-person plural (revealed to be the founding kibbutzniks, as opposed to latecomers or later generations) to the interior consciousness (without quotation marks) of Galila, Damkov, the jackal cub, and Sashka. It also ranges from third-person descriptions of conversations to a mysterious second-person voice in the reporting of Damkov’s apocalyptic flood daydream.

This shifting helps convey the hidden connections among persons and polarities, the conjunction of all things within one land in a story whose Hebrew title, “Artsot hatan,” is literally “the jackal’s lands.” Along with symbolism, the pervasive figure of speech personification suggests cumulatively, as well as in individual instances, covert ties among apparent divergences, even including, as the narrator points out repeatedly, the animate and inanimate worlds.

If the jackals symbolize the surrounding “foe,” the jackal cub symbolizes Galila, who like the cub warily approaches the bait—artists’ supplies—in Damkov’s quarters but is caught. As the cub licks its steel trap, so Galila finally fawns on Damkov, who in repeated metal imagery—including his own metalworking—is associated with the steel trap and the lock for Tanya, which has significant Freudian symbolism.

Galila, whose Hebrew name literally means “ring,” “circuit,” or “territory,” is captured by the lure of gifts from Damkov, whose Hebrew forename, Matityahu, means “gift of God.” Ironically, like other first-generation pioneers, Sashka is said to have been “forged” in fury, longing, and dedication to establishing the kibbutz, the metaphor equating him to Damkov in the latter’s metalworking and the recurrent imagery associating Damkov with heat. The recurrent polarity of heat versus cold is initiated in the story’s opening paragraphs, as a blast of cool sea wind, in a sexually suggestive...

(The entire section is 803 words.)