The Counterlife - Part 3 Aloft, pages 163-181 Summary & Analysis

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Part 3 Aloft, pages 163-181 Summary

Nathan stops writing the letter to Shuki when he notices that the passenger next to him has slumped and seems to have difficulty breathing. He asks if the young man is all right, and the man greets Nathan by name. Nathan is surprised to see that he is Jimmy Ben-Joseph, the young man he met at the wailing wall who believed that the cure to Israel's problems could be solved if Israel would import baseball. Jimmy explains that he feels "under pressure" because he intends to hijack the plane. He also claims to have a pistol and a grenade in his possession.

Jimmy seems to believe that Nathan will be willing to help. Nathan, of course, believes that Jimmy is joking, but Jimmy allows Nathan to feel the grenade through his coat pocket. Nathan wonders how Jimmy could have possibly gotten the grenade through the security that the airport in Tel Aviv. Nathan recounts all of the security measures he had to pass through and thinks it is simply impossible that Jimmy could have gotten such items aboard the plane.

Jimmy shows Nathan a note he has composed and that he calls a press statement. In the note Jimmy calls for the closing of an Israeli museum dedicated to the holocaust. He seems to believe that remembering the holocaust is what is holding the Jewish people back, and that if they would simply stop thinking about the past and focus on the future that their lives would improve immediately.

Nathan reminds Jimmy that armed security personnel are on the plane and they will not share Jimmy's sense of humor. This statement causes Jimmy to begin speaking loudly, and Nathan tries to calm him and explain that he wants nothing to do with Jimmy's plan, joke or not. Jimmy returns to speaking loudly, and again Nathan tries to calm him. Nathan begins to change seats, but Jimmy verbally threatens him with the gun, though he does not actually show it. Nathan decides to try to humor Jimmy. Nathan also notices that the other passengers have noticed Jimmy's odd behavior and loud speech.

Jimmy explains that he is joking about the hijack plans. He says that he plans to follow in Nathan's footsteps and go to England and find and English wife. Nathan asks about what Jimmy had told him about wanting to remain in Israel the first time they met at the wailing wall, and Jimmy responds that he was serious at the time, but after meeting Nathan he decided that he wanted to leave Israel and follow in Nathan's footsteps. He says that Nathan is his role model. After some more joking about Jimmy's plan, Nathan asks what is really in Jimmy's pocket. Jimmy produces both a pistol and a grenade.

One man leaps over the back of Jimmy's seat and seizes Jimmy's head. Another jumps across Nathan and takes the grenade and pistol from Jimmy. Jimmy appears to already be injured, but he is struck again. Nathan is lifted from his seat and handcuffed.

Nathan and Jimmy are moved to the front of the plane, searched, and questioned.

Part 3 Aloft, pages 163-181 Analysis

Jimmy's constant reversals in his story mirror the reversals in the larger plot. Just like in one section Henry dies and in other he lives, Jimmy says one thing and then immediately says another. First Jimmy says he intends to help the Jewish people with his terrorist action. He believes he is doing it for the good of the Jewish people. Later Jimmy says that he is simply joking and that he wants to be like his role model, Nathan, a man he thinks pokes fun of the Jewish people. Before being apprehended, Jimmy again returns to saying he intends to hijack the plane.

When Jimmy actually produces the weapons, it becomes apparent that his real story is that he intends to hijack the plane. All the talk of joking and viewing Nathan as the greatest of Jewish jokesters is at Nathan's expense. In fact, after Jimmy produces the weapons, it seems that he has contempt for Nathan's lack of religious devotion.

Once the two are apprehended by the security personnel on the plane, Nathan's reputation as a novelist who often writes in a comical way about Jewish characters will not help him in his predicament.

This section contains 728 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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