The environment in which one lives directs the way in which one lives. What makes up one’s surroundings influences one’s upbringing, personality, and overall outcome. When these influences are negative and trying, the subject in hand must adapt and build its survival around them. Negative impressions tend to lead to pessimistic lifestyle choices, creating an unsatisfactory existence that negates one from feeling hopeful. In Mehdi Charef’s Tea in the Harem, Majid’s social and environmental circumstances emulate hopelessness, creating the constant influence of despair which controls his life. Majid faces an ongoing inner struggle regarding his culture and how the French society sees him. Included in this struggle is Majid’s personal dilemma …show more content…
A significant struggle for the family is Majid’s father, whose head injury left him with the mental processing of a child. Majid becomes the primary male example in his family following his father’s injury, a position that does not excite Majid. Instead, assuming the part of “lead man” makes him feel even more under pressure and victim to his mother’s judgment. It is expected from Majid’s mother that he steps up and take on the role that his father once played, yet Majid does not fit the same mold. Majid is stuck wondering where he fits in, feeling out of place in the environments others want him to be comfortable in. He is not suited for the “working man’s” life, creating a sense of displacement within Majid that leads to carelessness. This carelessness fuels his despair because without caring for anything, there is no attachment or emotion behind Majid’s desires. His desires are frivolous and short-lived, desires that are heavily illegal and socially frowned upon. Majid’s ‘desires’ are far from ‘hopes,’ emphasizing how by caring for nothing he voids himself of hope and possibilities, leaving empty space for despair to come and fill in. Despair stitches itself into Majid, becoming one with his personality and a permanent reminder of the unfortunate events and circumstances that shape his life. This is seen in his attitude and behavior, both which Majid’s mother scolds him for. She points out the flaws in Majid’s life choices and state of mind, wishing he would be more like his father was before the accident. This only increases the despair inside Majid because he is reminded of who his father no longer is and how Majid is expected to assume the role of provider. There is a lot of tension between Majid and his mother because of her judgments. In return, Majid’s mother feeds his despair by saying he is lazy and does not want to help with the family, only making Majid want to help

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