Fill the Void

The action in Fill the Void centers older sister Esther’s death and subsequent pressure on younger Shira to marry the widower, but it’s Shira’s independent Aunt Hanna who is the strongest advocate for caution. Hanna is missing both arms and remains unmarried, but explains to Shira that she did once have a serious suitor; she called it off because she simply did not want to be married. On the advice of her rabbi, Hanna has been covering her hair like a married woman would ever since, to forestall personal questions and pity from their marriage-centric Hasidic community.

Forms of dependency other than marriage are also explored through Aunt Hanna. Hanna seems not to have any sort of paid personal assistance, instead relying on her sister Rivka and her nieces for activities of daily living, such as eating. The drawbacks of this are evident one day when Rivka is annoyed with Hanna and deliberately holds each forkful just a little bit too low, necessitating Hanna bend forward to eat it, eyes glittering with suppressed anger.


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