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Nationalism and Maternal Sacrifice in To the End of the Land

From: Hebrew Studies
Volume 54, 2013
pp. 345-357 | 10.1353/hbr.2013.0005



In To the End of the Land, a compulsory connection is made between the space of the land of Israel, Jewish national identity, and death. Reading this essentially popular novel, we may understand the way the Akedah myth is taken for granted in Israel, threaded as it is through Israeli consciousness. The implications of Grossman’s use of the Akedah go beyond the reciprocal relations between the citizen and the sovereign power. The excessive emotional manipulation of the reader obtains from the transposition of the Akedah myth from the father to the mother. Grossman overplays the relation between nationalism and the Akedah myth by foregrounding the concern of a mother for her son. This is the perfect device to achieve total identification with Israelihood. Via the strongest and most understandable of emotions, the complex emotion of motherhood, Grossman struggles to revive the Akedah myth with its shocking, double meanings, and demands the unquestioning re-conscription of the myth to the good of nationalism.