Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The voice is the voice of Jacob

Without even looking at the entrance to the tent, without even touching the cold surface of the hourglass, I know: It is nearly empty. The sand is running out. For us, there is no more time. He will never realize who it was standing there by his bedside, overcome and awash with tears.
I let one word escape, hoping that he cannot catch the sound of it—but wishing, in spite of myself, that he would: 
“Dad,” I whisper.
It is then that he raises his hand and with a strength I did not know he possessed, takes hold of my limb. He runs his fingers through the hair of the goatskin sleeve, comes as high up as my heart—and then, loses his breath and lets go. “The arm is the arm of Esav,” he whispers. “But the voice is the voice of Yankle.”

Yankle in A Favorite Son

This is a seminal moment in the story: Isaac, the blind father is on his deathbed. He seems to suspect he is being fooled. Meanwhile Yankle, the son, is torn between his love for his father and an irresistible urge to deceive him, in order to get that which does not rightly belong to him: the last blessing. He stands before his father, arm covered with a goatskin sleeve (so it may feel like his hairy brother's arm) not knowing where to go from here. Will he or won't he? This is how my narrator, David Kudler, reads this passage, expressing the heart-rending conflict in Yankle's voice:

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