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The Indelible Stamp of Reality on the Subject: David Grossman’s To the End of the Land

From: Hebrew Studies
Volume 54, 2013
pp. 359-371 | 10.1353/hbr.2013.0011



To the End of the Land is the first novel Grossman wrote in which the dominant consciousness is that of adults. As adults, especially as parents, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves is no longer an open-ended, multifarious story which can shield our fragile ego against a hostile and conformist world, it has turned into a story which has assimilated this outside world.

Grossman’s protagonists have always struggled in an attempt to block the outside world’s invasion into their unique individual inner self. In To the End of the Land, the struggle is revealed as a hopeless one: this novel’s protagonists are what others perceive them as. When Grossman’s protagonists turn into parents, they are forced to send their child, this embodiment of their most fragile inner self, to the world outside. As a result of sending the apple of one’s eye out into the world, one is exposed to being defined or redefined by this world—one loses himself (or herself) in this outside world. Ora is “a soldier’s mother” because she sent Offer to the army. Avram is “a soldier’s father” although he did his very best to avoid being a father and acknowledging his son. Not only are we defined by the outside world, we are the outside. The subject is not only the inner uniqueness of the individual, but its endless shaping by the outside world as well. If you strip the consciousness of its constant struggle with itself, with others, and with the “situation”, you strip it of what it is. Not only is the private political, but the political is the most private.

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