Analysis Of Sahar Khalifeh's Wild Thorns

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Sahar Khalifeh’s Wild Thorns provides a snapshot of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people and the ongoing conflict in the region. Khalifeh’s critique of not only the Israeli occupants, but the Palestinian aristocracy as well, demonstrates the difficulties of the Israeli occupation where the people may not be as poor as they once were, but Palestinian homes are blown up daily. The Palestinian working class people, forced to choose between nationalism and supporting their families, must face the shame of working in Israel as the Palestinian landowners turn their backs on them. Through the use of repetition and reference to a common Arab folktale hero, Abu Zayd, Khalifeh speaks to the plight of the Palestinian proletariat in the multidimensional …show more content…
With the conflict raging inside the Palestinian area, the collective identity lays in shambles. Due to the fact that no sense of solidarity exists within the people, some turn to the tales of the past to forge a connection to a once great Palestinian people. As Abu Sabir falls in and out of consciousness while holding his bleeding hand, he asks for Adil to tell him an Abu Zayd story. Adil claims to not remember any tales of Abu Zayd, however as noted, “Adil realized it was an old tragedy, that the story happened over and over every day” (Khalifeh 53). Adil’s thoughts thus demonstrate how historically rooted the divide between Israelis and Palestinians actually goes. Abu Sabir craves to be reminded of the victorious outcome of the conflict for Abu Zayd, in order to find hope with the conflict of the present. By asking the younger Adil to tell him a story, Abu Sabir looks to form a connection with Adil. In his moment of weakness, Abu Sabir feels helpless in the possibility of being out of work. By forming a connection with Adil, Abu Sabir assures himself that he will not be left alone to face his lack of future prospects. Although it’s possible that Abu Sabir simply seeks a distraction from his pain, or perhaps he wants the comfort of hearing a heroic tale as a hope for a future free from Israeli occupation, either …show more content…
Built around events that occurred in the 11th century, Sirat Bani Hilal is the original tale of Abu Zayd. As the history of the tale repeats itself through the events of the novel, Khalifeh mentions Abu Zayd multiple times over the course of the story to act as a persistent reminder of the deep seeded nature of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Adil makes multiple references to “the old tragedy” which harkens back to the original attachment to the folktale. Like Abu Zayd having to defeat a Jewish leader and battle against an Arabic king, the characters in the novel fight a two-front war in order to gain both personal and collective freedom. Additionally, as previously stated, Abu Zayd begins as an outcast from his community. “Abu Zayd is therefore of noble birth, but also black-skinned, in Arab epic a sure sign of servile status...but also by definition an outsider or outcast” (Slyomovics 56). Though he eventually gets reinstated in his tribe, he begins his life in conflict with his people, unable to fully acclimate to the community. These tensions within the community resonate with the current conflict and through Abu Zayd, Khalifeh not only makes reference to the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation but also, more importantly, demonstrates the often overlooked and ongoing class

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