By Amos Oz
Seven years after their divorce, Ilana breaks the sour silence with a letter to Alex, a world-renowned authority on fanaticism, begging for support with their rebellious adolescent son, Boaz. One letter ends up in one other, and so evolves a correspondence among Ilana and Alex, Alex and Michel (Ilana's Moroccan husband), Alex and his Mephistophelian Jerusalem lawyer—a correspondence among father and mother, stepfather and stepson, father and son, every one pleading his or her personal case.
The greedy, lyrical, manipulative, loving Ilana has stirred issues up. Now, her former husband and her current husband became competitors not just for her loyalty yet for her son's besides.
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Additional resources for Black Box
If we shift our focus from endings to formal and conceptual beginnings, the sense of a binary structure, which valorizes an idyllic notion of motherhood over a demonized masculinity, is dislodged. What is revealed instead is that Wharton is as skeptical of an idealization of motherhood as she is of the patriarchal system under which the characters live. While Charity certainly seeks both a surrogate mother as well her own maternal biological origins, these origins are not the ideal she hopes to find.
As equals for good” (10). 5 A focus on the ending of Summer has sparked significant debate among critics. Many of these scholars accurately depict Wharton’s strong critique of patriarchal social structures that contain and appropriate female agency. But many of these same critics also want to see embedded in this critique a type of idealization of motherhood, which has been “depreciated, disdained, and ultimately, destroyed” by the representations of patriarchy in the novel (Elbert 4). Monika Elbert reads Wharton as mourning the loss of “motherhood,” represented by the “primeval mother within [Charity]” (7).
In many ways, Wharton’s novel is an example of what Margaret Homans and other theorists have called an adoption narrative. A particularly apt exemplification of what Homans calls “the unknowability of origins,” the narrative illustrates the fact that although knowledge about Charity’s past is “intensely but apprehensively sought” it is “not finally available” (“Adoption” 5). This unavailability or fictionality is directly connected by Wharton to the fictive nature of the maternal ideal. . usually understood as the key to a character’s identity” (Homans, “Adoption” 10).
Black Box by Amos Oz