Monday, January 17, 2011

"her discrete self-definition as a woman in a house of three men"

"'She became part of the family immediately,' Ora continues as they descend, and she holds back a sigh, because something changed at home when Talia came, when she started having meals with them and staying over and even going on vacations abroad with them (all of a sudden I had someone to go to the bathroom with when we were on trips, she remembers).  But how can she tell him this?  How can she describe to a man like himthat apartment of his, the darkness, the solitarinessthe slight shift that occurred in the balance between men and women at home, and her feeling that womanhood itself had been given, for the first time perhaps, its rightful place in the family?  How can she recount something like that, and what could he, in his state, understand?  And what business is it of his anyway?  Truth be told, she does not yet feel ready to admit to him, to an almost stranger, how amazed she was, and how it taunted her even to see how this young woman effortlessly attained something she herself had never even tried to demand from her three men:  their full recognition of the fact that she was a woman, her discrete self-definition as a woman in a house of three men, and the fact that being a woman was not just another of her annoying whims, nor a pathetic defiance of the real thing, which was how the three of them often made her feel. . . . What Talia had brought about, God only knows how, through the very light motions of her being!  Ora snickers to herself, because even Nicotine, the family dog, of blessed memory, experienced a slightly embarrassing change when Talia was around."

     David Grossman, To the end of the land, trans. Jessica Cohen (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 179.  Talia was Ora's son's girlfriend.  Ora's "three men" were, of course, her husband and her two sons (not to mention the male "family dog").

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