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A Handful of Dates

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Rachel Miller

on 27 September 2012

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Transcript of A Handful of Dates

Mykaela, Rachel, Aiden, Allie A Handful of Dates Characterization Story Structure The main character in this story does not have a name but is referred to as the grandson. The story is from his point of view.
The grandson is very intelligent, however he is also arrogant. “I believe I was his favorite grandchild: no wonder, for my cousins were a stupid bunch and I—so they say—was an intelligent child.” - this is referring to being his grandfather's favorite.
Aside from being intelligent, he is also intuitive. “I used to know when my grandfather wanted me to laugh, when to be silent; also I would remember the times for his prayers and would bring him prayer-rug and . . . “
Although he is intelligent he is also naive in many ways, this is proved by the fact that he has a role model and thinks nothing but the best of him. This clouded his judgment and therefor he was not able to see the bad parts of his grandfather.
The grandson is also impressionable. "'Women', and from the way my grandfather pronounced the word I felt that women was something terrible." -To him, anything his grandfather says is true, therefor he believes it as well.
When he comes to the realization that most of the things he believed about his grandfather were not true, i don't think he knew how to react. He hated his grandfather for what he did, and he needed some form of a release to that feeling probably knowing that he could in no way go against his grandfather. "I ran off into the distance. Hearing my grandfather call after me, I hesitated a little, then continued on my way. I felt at that moment that I hated him. Quickening my pace, it was as though I carried within me a secret I wanted to rid myself of. I reached the riverbank near the bend it made behind the wood of acacia trees. Then, without knowing why, I put my finger into my throat and spewed up the dates I'd eaten." - it could be argued that the river represents his grandfather. He also felt ashamed to be eating the dates he now sees belong to Masood. Literary Devices Theme The grandson from this story goes through the greatest change. He has a role model (his grandfather) that he views as this amazing wise man who could do no wrong and is never wrong. When he witnesses his grandfather taking all the dates from Masood his entire perception shatters. Not only has he been proven wrong (something that most likely does not happen often), but i believe he also has to face the fact that 'hey, if i was completely wrong about him, then how can i be so sure everything else i believe is true as well?', in this story it talks about how religious he is, so perhaps he might think that could be wrong as well. Suddenly everything is not set in stone. Everything just became more complex with this epiphany. Yes he has gone through a lot of change in the time span of the story, but the most change would have taken place after. Not everything about him that changed necessarily is bad. With this realization i believe it will give him a chance to finally become independent and think for himself, seeing as the person he originally depended on turned out to be not exactly dependably (at least in his eyes) . Also he can realize that nothing is impossible, the things you may believe to be set in stone could be completely wrong. And going through this will give him a good preparation for the real world where things could completely turn upside down, not he will understand how to deal with that. Introduction


This particular short story is about a young boy who idols his grandfather as a god. They are Muslim, therefore they go to Mosque daily. The boy thinks of his grandfather as “pure” and compares him to a river. He wants to grow up and be just like his grandfather. Rising Action/Crisis


Masood, the neighbour of the grandfather, informed them that he was harvesting the dates and asked if they wanted to come help. They accepted the invitation.

There was a long history between the grandfather and Masood. They didn't like each other at all. The grandfather claimed this was because Masood had treated him poorly. Climax

While Masood harvested the dates, the grandfather sat and watched him. Once the dates had been harvested, the grandfather gave some of the dates to the boy and then they started to divide them. The grandfather and the others separated the dates and left absolutely none for Masood. The grandfather said that Masood was still in debt to him. Falling Action

After this dramatic incident, the little boy ran off because he now had a feeling of hate towards his once worshiped grandfather. He was mad and completely shocked at the way he had treated Masood. Conclusion


The short story ends with the little boy running right to the river and throwing up all the dates that he had just eaten into the river. He compared his grandfather to the river and his grandfather owned the dates, which shows a sense of irony and disgust. A Handful Of Dates by Tayeb Salih helps to contextualize how money can overpower, or effect our human morality. At the beginning of the short story, the main character describes his grandfather as pure, like the river that he loves so much. And while this may have been his innocence as a child, his grandfather seems justified in most of his actions. However, as the story progresses, you can see his disdain for his neighbor, Masood. When Masood offers the boy to help harvest the dates, the Grandfather says he will help, and eventually ends up taking and dividing all of the dates that belong to Masood, leaving Masood sad and dateless. This provides us with much insight into the character of the grandfather. When asked, he says he did this because Masood owed him a debt. Despite his kind person, and often just dealings, when presented with material wealth, or justification for unkindness, he takes it. The boy then proceeds to throw up all the dates in to the river. I think that the river presents a strong metaphor for the boys feelings. While at the start the boy is comparing his grandfathers purity to the river, and then at the end, he throws up at the banks of the river. This represents the boys change of heart towards him, as the river is spoiled at the end yet pure at the start. The dates also can represent any kind of wealth. The whole story is very telling about both the child and the grandfathers character. While I've already discussed the father, I would like to talk about the child. He throws up the dates, because subconsciously he knows that what he partook in was wrong. And I think that the fact that he is a child helps to illustrate that in the real world, this kindness is only really present in the innocent. It is so rare that one chooses others over themselves, despite many cultures/religions teaching it. The messages presented in this story are ever important in the modern world. People's morals getting overruled by our materialistic society seems to occur more and more every day. Many times people will act in ways that they would not, to obtain something. For example, on a larger scale, we see governments waging wars all of the world to obtain wealth or resources, when you know that some people down the line must feel uncomfortable with these choices. And conversely, while much advertising is offensive to many, and can make many people uncomfortable, it is used to target our weakness and consumeristic tendencies. Besides the allusion to wealth, I think the story alludes to how when one feels prejudiced against another, or justified in their unkindness, they feel as though they are in the right. The grandfather shows disdain for Masood when he talks about his former wives and how he deals with his land. He then claims that he will buy the rest of his property, in a rather harsh and unkind way. I think that this too, is indicative of his character, and the real world. Often people use old assumptions and tradition as an excuse to ostracise people or communities. And I think that tradition is often used to justify the morally wrong. If someone claims that it is part of their religion or culture to be cruel to a segregation of the community, while they claim peace, they feel as though what they do and how they act is acceptable, when it isn't, at all! The theme of a handful of dates is that money changes people. The grandfather gets corrupted with money and power. The grandson loses respect for his grandfather. In the beginning the grandson would praise the grandfather. In the text it says, “ My grandfather, however, jumped to his feet and I saw that his eyes sparkled momentarily”. The grandfather wants more and more. The story shows greed and resembles how power makes people go crazy. A movie that A Handful of Dates has the same theme money changes people would be Click. In Click Adam Sandler has a remote control that he can fast forward or rewind his life. In click Michael Newman an archeologist only focuses on work and earning money. This results in Michael losing his family and only wanting money. Michael and the grandfather start to only care about money. The grandfather’s grandson starts losing respect for the grandfather that he once looked up to. The grandson loses that respect because how greedy money has made him. “You're still fifty pounds in debt to me, said my grandfather to Masood. We'll talk about it later.” That quotation from the novel shows that all the grandfather wants and cares about is money. A novel that A Handful of Dates has the same theme would be The Fisherman and his Wife. The fisherman and his wife is about a poor fisherman who found an enchanted fish. The fisherman went home and his wife told him to go ask for something in return from the fish. When he went to ask for something in return the fish gave the fisherman a sung cottage. After a couple weeks the fisherman’s wife said that she deserved better then this. She asked the fisherman to go the fish and ask for a castle. A few days after she became queen she wanted her husband to go back to the fish and ask to be empress of the sky. The fish told the fisherman your wife has all that she deserves. When he came home he had the rickety old hut. The grandfather has the same greed as the fisherman’s wife did in the fairytale. The grandfather wants to drain Masood of everything he has just like the wife and fish. Money and power are the theme in both of these stories. Money changes how people think and what they want.
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