Sunday, June 22, 2008

Open Thread


John Collins said...

I kind of felt that during class discussion we were villanizing Amin and I am not entirely sure that he deserves it. I agree that the way he objectified Sihem and how he turned his back on his country was not particularly good, but I think he was just to trying to live life to the best of his ability. He came from a male-dominated culture where women have little rights and I think he jsut didn't know how to treat women properly. When Amin's sister is talking to him about where Sihem was, she said, "If Yasser finds out I haven't held my tongue, he'll cut it off. I was surprised to see you, and I let some words slip that didn't belong to me"
(114). I think in Amin's mind showering his wife with gifts was his idea of how the ideal husband should act.

I think in the end of the book Amin realizes how much he has turned his back on his family and his country and he tries to rectify all of his wrongdoings. I thought that when he tries to prevent the Isreali soldiers from destroying his family's home and when he tries to stop Faten from killing herself were both admirable and softened my perceptions of him.

meaganlaue said...

John I agree with you %100. I think that the way we were constantly ragging on Amin was the one thing that was getting to me most during our discussion in class. The more we read into the book the more we can see his true love for Sihem. He refers to them as one, not as an independent, "We were so happy, we had such confidence in each other" (125). I find that those words are not the words of a selfish man but a selfless man just in love.

Now on that note, do not get me wrong. I do understand that Amin makes mistakes. But I just think that before we focus too much on one characters mistakes and flaws we need to step back and look more at the overall picture. Honestly though, how would you act if you found out that the love of your life had a entirely separate life that you were completely unaware of??

JE said...

Well this had a great ending for me...It really sucks that I missed class today. I want to know what the discussion was about...But I never would have expected for the kidnapping to be a fake. Although it was extreme, i feel that it was able to prove a point and it could have been worst. This event and the discussion that followed, helped me understand from the Terrorist perspective. He notes that this is from a perspective of poor civilians, but stats have stated that most terrorist are from the elite(both leader and followers). However, this is still an awesome view of life in thier eyes. If I would have gone through that, I would have develop a hatred for man.

Also, we finally got to see where Sihed was coming from. I honestly can not accept that she did this for her country, but perhaps I am closed minded in the American dream. But all of the signs do point to her grief for not upholdoing her heritage, culture, family and religious background.

JE said...

By the way, I did not think about how he does say we. But its good to see that he actually loved her and it was not just for the thought of love. He just seems to hide the stroger feelings by going back to his own personal achievements. However, we end the book knowing that there was love in the relationship and he only wants to understand why this was happening to him. If you believed that everything was perfect, you would probably question your accomplishments too.

Dillon said...

I don't really understand the author's motive. There is an obvious way how the narrator stereotypes Israelis and Jews, but I don't understand the point.

What is the point?: a Doctor who was assimilated into the Israeli lifestyle learns his wife was a suicide bomber, he does not respect the Israeli society, he goes to his Arab roots, he sees the roots get bulldozed over, and he gets killed by Israeli jets in the end. Since the author is Arab as well I don't see any sort of Irony in the story.

I know there is not a good or bad side to this conflict, but the book didn't go far enough to address that issue. It was very superficial.

Also, I don't like how sometimes the narrator just goes off into long spells of rambles that are put into one paragraph (not putting paragraphs drives me nuts). I know he tries to show how the character is thinking and showing anxiety, but I think there could be better ways to do that.

I also don't like books that have first person present tense point of view. There is not an abstract voice that I can listen to, so its hard to find the point of this book when it reads in such a superficial way. As we have pointed out in class, the author lives in Algeria , so a story that is totally based on first person point of view from a foreigner without that abstract thought seems pointless to me.

Dillon said...

"Just and Unjust Wars A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations"

From The discussion we had in class today defining a Just War:
If the death of civilians will not occur,
When you have a clear objective,
When you want to defend yourself,
If you are obeying International Law,
If you do not instill fear into the eyes of others.

What war in history existed that did not break all those rules?

How do we choose the death of any human being to save another? In triage, the doctors are saving lives in the most efficient way, and war you are killing people on the assumption that the war will save lives. That is a big assumption. War is so complex that there is no clear result until years after the war has ended. Who argues the killing of a human to save the life of another human? And how does this problem lead to world cohesiveness? It seems unchristian to justify a sacrifice in this day and age.

I feel like all the books seem to have addressed this issue in some way or another: conflict cannot be solved with more conflict. If anything, we need deeper understanding of the issues about the conflicts. Until then, it just "Cycles".

In "The reluctant fundamentalist" the narrator felt he was perpetuating the conflict so he quit the American culture. In the end we are just perpetuating the whole situation until we find something that works.

The "unknown terrorists" was a victim to this jingoistic view. The doll was sacrificed to make the world better feel safer.

"the attack" begins with violence and ends with violence and leaves the problem still sitting out there.

It seems like such a big issue in these books, yet most Americans want a just war.

JE said...

I like how you said that the book begins in violence and ends in violence. This never ending cycle is what the world is today. No matter what we do to prevent this drama, it conitues to flourish through out the world. We too will end in war when its all said and done.

CAH said...

Regarding the media--in looking back I saw imagergy on p. 143, 203,& 209 relating to 206 where two disheveled journalists were sleeping on a sofa. Other references to rats and ants are there but I was thinking the journalists were found elsewhere. Also regarding the discussion on whether the Government should tell everything--I have been an employee for different companies or institutions (more often the later) where as part of the job it is required that a person "don't tell" everything that goes on and in some cases that means NEVER. So I don't find it unsual that we do not know everything that the military does. We can never forget that even in the military there are human beings who as some said, make mistakes but they can also be criminals just as easy as they can be heroes. They are a group on society that we can respect that they are often very proud to serve their Nation. Friendly Fire--it used to upset me greatly but I realize that often it has been "called for" in situations where death is imminent anyway--everyone's life is already at risk. Then there are accidents, which unfortunately happen even on our own property/homes. It's great that we can explore these elements in society each from our own aspect of understanding. CAH

blfreemyer said...

I agree with JE, I really enjoyed how the book came full cycle starting and ending with violence. At first the beginning death scene threw me off because it was unclear who was dying; however, it all wrapped up towards the end when the reader realizes that the beginning scene was actually Amin. I enjoy when author's, like Khadra, switch up how one is typically supposed to write a novel. So, it was a nice twist that was unexpected.

Mario said...

I also liked how the end was in the beginning. I shows just how random these events are because the reader doesnt know what happened. I thought that the author was describing one of the victims of his wife's attack. but in a twist it was in fact his death.

John Collins said...

Yeah like everyone else I liked that the book began and ended with the same scene. I think Khadra begins the book with that scene because he is capitalizing on all of our opinions and assumptions of the violence in the Middle East by making it appear to be a suicide bombing. I thought the same thing Mario did, that the beginning scene was about Sihem blowing herself up.

I think Khadra was trying to show readers the similarities between the Palestinian suicide bombing and the Isreali air attack to portray a battle in which both sides are committing atrocities and killing civilians as opposed to the one-sided, Pro-Isreali, viewpoints that are often portrayed in the media.

CAH said...

Re: the disscusion -Is the US always on top of everything? WWII was a close call. We were not in the War until Pearl Harbour when almnost all of our Navy battleships were wiped out by a surprise attack by Japanese forces linked to the Germans. The Russians were ahead of us in submarine technology until we pulled a sub off the ocean floor We cannot afford to be smug or play dumb. CAH

be love. said...

to continue on the discussion of the circle of violence, i think it is really important to not how not only the reader was taken into this circle by the format of the novel, but also amin. as i reflect upon what was said in class and how we were either defending or attacking Amin, i feel like perhaps we should step back and look at why we were attacking him. at the point in the book where we were completely tearing him down we had about 4 pages of knowledge on him. we had no historical evidence to support that he's a jerk, we had no information on his motives, or really who he was. i think this is an important point to consider as we go day to day in this world of ours. really diving into the questions of who, why, what before we assign a role to someone.


callie grace said...

True True... however i just wanna go back to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and how it is portrayed in this book. We really didn't discuss it in class but it's been weighing heavily on my mind and i'm wishing i had time to go back and find the undertones of the book that hit on the matter.

Tying this into the previous post, i agree judging someone too quickly (or ever) leads to biased opinion that is most likely not entirely true. Applying that on a larger scale, how can we look at the Palestinian/israeli conflict through the lense of grace? Is one side more deserving of understanding and sympathy than the other? Is there a guilty party?

My own opinion is that Israel is protecting their homeland in its retaliation to suicide bombings etc. However... like i stated previously... my observations are not entirely objective.

CAH said...

Re: Class discussion--At the beginning of the book he seems detached and as though he is looking down on life from the windows of his room, it seems that he has a worldview that does not embrace belief in 39 he talks about the world of the ancient gods. pg. 52 he speaks of how his wife makes him feel (elevated).pg. 122 he talks about how God sent a child, one of his own--the last thing we needed. pg. 126 he talks about secular authoritym, indifferent to the babel of various gods pg. 176 Christ's kindom on eart and the ideal Islamic state. At the very beginning of the book before he was about to get beat up, I believe he was feeling above needing help from anyone or any God. I don't think he is a religious person of any sort, that is all I picked up on. CAH

John Collins said...

Callie, I think the Isreali/Palestinian conflict is so complex that it would take everyone in our class researching for months to get a grip on what exactly is going on over there. Although The Attack is an enlightening take on Middle East conflict, it is obviously biased and I don't think we should base any of our opinions on it. I think it would be completely unfair for any of us to declare one of the two groups the "guilty party" because we just don't know enough. I think as Americans and as observers of this conflict, the prudent thing to do is to just have sympathy for ALL the people, Palestinian and Isreali, that have suffered more than any of us can possibly imagine as a result of the violence.

op.3no.2 said...

I agree with john collins, we should have sympathy with all the people and hope both sides will reach some peace before destroying each other beyond repair.
I see Amin's struggle. If I were in his place, as a young person I would try to get as far up and away from the violence and insensibility too, through education, and I would feel leaving my family as a necessary sacrifice I must do to save myself. Then, when I am finally away and established, if I look back, I will feel a tug and wonder what it is I'm doing.
And if it never came! - I'll only have run far, far away.

JE said...

Huh, we often run far from the issues daily. I dont think that this is necessarily a bad thing, but does running define who we are. If running is who you are, then thats great, but if you need definition and a voice to stand for something, then you should have never left. I agree that we need the education to keep evolving, but that does not always have a positive effect on society. The irony is that the more you learn, the more distruction you can cause. Those who have taken part to harm our country were well eduated of our system and thier own, this is why they chose to lash out on our nation and make us an example for the world. Knowledge is power or power is knowlege. I guess we have to choose.

Sarah Jane said...

cah-you were talking about how this isn't a religous text through your examples. I completely agree with you, but what's the point of that? Is he trying to say that religion is what leads to violence.

On another subject...John you said we should have all sympathy for those in Israel and Palestine because we don't know enough about the conflict. I'm not sure I feel the same way. I sort of feel we should condem both sides and saying that both of their violent acts are the wrong way to handle conflict.

John Collins said...

Sarah, I didn't mean we should have sympathy for suicide bombers who commit violent acts or the people who just feed into the chaos over there. I think almost everyone can agree that the killing of innocent civilians is a deplorable act and like you said, should be condemned. I meant that instead of trying to assess blame for everything that is going on over there, we should just have sympathy for the plight of average Palestinian and Isrealis who are not committing violent acts yet still fear for their lives because of the violence in the region.

Sarah Jane said...

gotcha....they way you put it better, the first time you wrote it, it just seemed like you meant everyone.

madel09 said...

Ok, I am going to try to relpy to all the issues brought up becuase I think they are great. I think that we did rag on Amin when we would have probably done/reacted in the same way as him. He was trying to create a better life for his family and himself and he did this through education and becoming a doctor, a healer. He was showing his love for Sihem in the way they he knew how, by taking care of her.
_I also loved how the preface forshadowed the end of the novel!!

Now, on the Isreali/Pakistani conflict. I agree that is is a very complex issue that would take lots of knowledge on the issue to completely understand and asses blame. I think that it is a struggle that I wish for the people of the area would end but, as we discussed in class it is a cycle and i think that it will have to take a change in human nature/ideals of the region for the violence to come to an end. But, I wish peace on the region

John Collins said...

I found a really interesting article that National Geographic did on female suicide bombers. I don't know if Khadra got his inspiration for Sihem but after reading this I think it is possible. According to the article, the majority of women that perform suicide bombings had a traumatic personal stories and issues that led them to kill themselves and others.

The article goes on to say, "One [terrorist], for example, was the first female suicide bomber in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Wafa Idris. She was married off at a very young age and could not have kids. In that society a woman, a wife, who can't have kids is considered worthless. The husband [divorced Wafa and] married someone else and had kids with her."

This reminds me of the part in The Attack when Sihem mentions that she only wanted to have kids when she deserved them.

The report came to the conclusion that "The bombers we investigated] were vulnerable, broken women who saw no way out. They saw their lives on Earth as too difficult to handle, and when they reached that stage, in their minds, taking out the enemy was an opportunity to become a hero: Why not redeem myself and redeem my family's name?"

Jiggloz said...

First off, I enjoyed this book. It's a great thriller but it has its niches. I cant really understand sometimes the authors message.

I want to point out one message i've seen. I thinks its ironic (like mad pointed out) that Jaafari is a surgeon; a person who heals others, when all around him he is surrounded by the exact opposite. I understand that he is trying to convey two worlds perhaps violence and innocence and its mix into a naive world.

What I don't understand is his approach. A wife that turns out to be a suicide bomber? Seriously.

There should have been a voice, like dillon said. There should be a literature device to allow the reader to understand more about Jaafari and his relationship with his wife.

DTower said...

I think there's a lot of things i find wrong with Sihem's voice being absent. The main question (that would probably answer a lot of questions in this regard) if Sihem was truly a zealot at heart; if she truly felt like she was turniing her back on her people by living in Isreal; if she truly felt like she had no homeland, then why the fudge did she even marry Amin?
You can't say she didn't know what he was trying accomplish with his life because she had refused to marry him several times before she agreed. Why didnt she join the ranks of the rebels, or hell even marry at all if this is the course she prefer.
"you wanted children. I wanted to deserve them"? How does that work when you blow yourself to bits in a suicide bombing? Sihem is a charater that i just can't folllow or sympathize with. yeah she was unhappy with her life of subtlty but found solice in creating insurmountable amount of chaos.

DTower said...

On another note i can't fully fault Amin for his lack of commitment to his wife or duely deem him selfish. He wanted a life that was better than he had growing up. This is totally off the subject, but it presents a faint paralell to what goes on amongst the minorities. I think i personally identify with Amin in the thought process of the decisions he made in life. I didn't want to realize my dreams through the destruction of others. I didn't want to have to sleep surrounding myself with artillery worrying about confrontation with law enforcement and we'll call them "people of undesireable charater"; not for me. Thats why i'm here to better myself and that's why Amin worked hard to climb out of the mudpit he was in.
Now we can argue all day about why minorites have such a hard time in America (Class or Race), but we have to agree that there is some form of hegemonic power that retards the upward mobility of particular people in our society, as well as in the Middle East.
Now in the process of achieving that upward mobility Amin lost sight of himself and what he represented, but only because the measures he had to take not only to achieve that status and refrain from the appearance of the religious extremist that the Isreali gov. fight against.