Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 219

“Where the Jackals Howl” is pervaded by opposites or oppositions, which appear to have an underlying link comparable to that between the jackal cub and the steel trap or that within the eternal cycles of nature from night to day or from summer to winter. Intellect, rationality, language loving, handsomeness, towheadedness, foundation-laying, rootedness to Israel, and communal orientation, as represented by Sashka, are contrasted with the opposite qualities in Damkov. His eyes repeatedly redden with blood like those of the stud horses he raised. Called “mad” by Galila and other kibbutzniks, he distrusts language, has an ugly body and deformed left hand, is dark-haired, is a relative newcomer, and wishes to flee with Galila to South America.

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Many hidden connections, such as those between Sashka and Damkov, pervade the story and underlie the oppositions. For example, Damkov wins over Galila using language in his story of horse breeding. He also uses language in whispering his secret into her ear, despite his clumsiness with and mistrust of words.

Also suggested is a hidden bond between Israelis and Arabs. The Arabs are never named, but their presence is conveyed through one of the symbolic meanings of the jackals as well as the story’s references to the darkness and “foe” or “enemy” lying beyond the circles from the kibbutz’s searchlights.

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