Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Hero Quest of “Kneller's Happy Campers” (Annotation G4-2/Goddard)

In Etgar Keret's novella “Kneller's Happy Campers” a grim afterlife for suicides is the setting of Mordy's quest. The story begins with Mordy, a youth who finds a job and a hardcore bar. As he tells his story, the first person narrative begins: “Two days after I killed myself,” (Keret 93). Mordy also explains his suicide is because of Desiree. As the reader discovers, this place is just like life, only a little worse. As Mordy gets moving in his afterlife, he comes to discover that Desiree has also killed herself. Knowing that all suicides come to this place, Mordy and his pal Uzi go on a quest to find Desiree.
As Mordy leaves his job at Kamikaze pizza, and Uzi leaves his family (all of whom have offed themselves) they tour the country looking for Desiree. As a hero quest, the actions of Mordy are clear enough, he wants to find the girl. Uzi has different motivations, namely the first beer of the morning and sex. Mordy is the consummate romantic letting his intuition lead the way, Mordy needs Uzi not only for company but for his car. The seriousness of his quest is met by the hedonistic tendencies of his mate. While on the road the two pick up a girl, Lihi and the three continue on into the country of suicides. Like Mordy, Lihi has a quest too, she believes she doesn't belong in this place, claiming her death was not a suicide.
Knowing the motivations of the three main characters, and their individual quests need to achieve results. Through their travels, the three find Desiree. For Mordy, suicide and the adventure has changed him. As his quest comes to an end, she is not the girl she had been. Desiree has joined a suicide cult, and is in the process of committing suicide again. To further thwart Mordy's efforts, he has become involved emotionally with Lihi. Lihi's quest comes to an end when the PIC, or people in charge, break up the suicide cult's mass suicide. After a conversation with the PIC, Lihi gets to return to life.
As Uzi and Mordy remain, Uzi has some choice ideas for Mordy. Telling him simply that he gets stuck on girls he can never have. As the quest ends, Mordy returns to Kamikaze pizza. Although his hero quest doesn't yield the desired results, he has changed.

Keret, Etgar. “Kneller's Happy Camper.” Trans. Miriam Shlesinger. The Bus Driver who Wanted to Be God. London: The Toby Press, 2004.

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