Identities, one or the other, are activated and mobilized in conditions of conflict. In a normal situation, everyone has multiple identities, including national, regional, gender, class, and sexual ones. However, it is the role of national identity that is indispensable for the stable and sustainable existence of the state. Shared responsibility for the country’s future is the most enduring of all the components of national identity.
However, no less important are such components as a set of common values and the presence of a common experience of statehood in society. Both heroes possess most of the necessary components since they share the values of their people and are anxious for their country’s fate.
The book emphasizes the naivete of the author. It manifests itself in how ignorant he is of the fate of the Jewish people. To him, the only person capable of telling the author about the Jews was his grandmother.
Apple notes that his grandmother perceived the world in terms of “us” (Jews) and “others” (Gentiles). Nevertheless, the journalist identifies with the milieu of his origins, and he wants to know more about the fate of the people with whom he is related by blood. His national identity manifests itself in this desire to learn about the culture and the Jewish people in general.
At the same time, Hans’ Jewish heritage comes from his father, who was a Jew. His mother was not Jewish, but both of his parents were active Communists in Vienna. Hans spent much of his youth traveling around Europe as part of the same Communist faction. Hans eventually became a wandering shepherd, making it his business to move with his flock from one place to another.
Despite his ascetic lifestyle, Hans also remains attached to his homeland. In his whole image, in his words, one can see this man’s strong connection to the Jewish community. However, his awareness of his connection to the people does not manifest itself in radical forms, such as nationalism or chauvinism. He is deeply attached to his people and would like the best for the future of people of the same nationality as him.