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A handful of dates

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by

kiana james

on 15 December 2014

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Transcript of A handful of dates

Summary
This short story is mainly about a young boy who admires his grandfather dearly. They are Muslims and the young boy sees his grandfather as someone pure as water. He wanted to be just like his grandfather when he grew up. Masood a neighbour of theirs asked if they could help him harvest the dates, from his dates tree one day, that he had given to his grandfather years back. There is a deep history between the grandfather and his neighbour Masood. They aren't fond of each other now , and grandfather said it was because Masood had treated him badly. When the time came to harvest the dates, the grandfather just sat there while Masood and the others harvested the dates. When the harvesting was over the grandfather then got up, and went to divide up the dates between himself, the other neighbour next door, and two merchants, leaving Masood none. The little boy then ran off, because of the new found hate towards his grandfather, for the way he treated Masood. After he always looked up to him as a God, the way he treated Masood is no way anyone should be treated.
Plot
Raising action: Tayeb went with his grandfather to the dates harvesting, on Masood's property. Tayeb notices that Masood wasn't eating any of his dates.

Climax: Tayeb realized that his grandfather is selfish and his idolization turns into hatred towards his grandfather.

Falling action: Tayeb noticed that Masood was in some type of pain because of the debt.

Conclusion: Story ends with Tayeb puking out the dates, which he felt were dirty.

Conflict: Human vs Human
Mainly took place between Masood and the grandfather. Also human vs human between the grandfather and grandson.

Point of view: The story is in first person point of view. "I must have been very young at the time"

ii. "My grandfather gave me a fistful, which I began munching...Hussein the merchant took 10; each of the strangers took 5. Mousa the owner of the field, next to ours on eastern side took 5, and my grandfather took 5. Understanding nothing, I looked at Masood, whose eyes were darting left to right like two mice that have lost their way home"

Without realizing it at the time, the narrator sees how hostile his grandfather really was. Although he didn't have a full sense on what was happening he hated seeing how Masood was mistreated, and hatred towards his grandfather grew after realizing how greedy he really was . This shows the loss of the boy's innocence because he realizes that the man he idolized and saw as his hero turned out to be a selfish person.


Short Story Elements
Setting : "A Handful of Dates" is set in the fictional village of Wad Hamid in central Sudan where they practice the reading of Koran.

Theme : Money and the need of wanting more leads to an individual to lose the touch with ones humanity and therefore they become corrupted. The grandfather illustrates this theme through his actions.
a hANDFUL OF dATES
Tayeb : He went everywhere with his grandfather except in the morning when he had to go to the Mosque to learn Koran.

Grandfather : -Disliked the neighbour
-Owned two thirds of the land
-Jealous of Masood for owing all of the land.

Masood: Owned the whole land 40 years ago in the story. Each time Masood got married he would send his grandfather a feddan or two. He also had 3 wives.
Characterization
The story ‘A Handful of Dates’ has two major themes of greed and the loss of innocence. These are evident throughout the story through the narrator, the young boy, who sees that no everyone is who they appear to be through the greediness of his grandfather.

i. “I loved him and would imagine myself, when I grew to be a man, tall and slender like him, walking along with great strides”
This quote from the story is important because it showed that a great part from his childhood was him worshiping his grandfather. He looked at him like he was a hero, never seeing the flaws, and pictured himself to grow just like him.
The other major theme in the story is greed, which is shown by the narrator’s grandfather. It shows that a rise in social class really can lead to losing your humanity.
iii.
“He’s an indolent man and I don’t like such people… I didn’t own a single feddan when I first set foot in this village. Masood was then the owner of all these riches. The position has changed now, though, and I think that before Allah calls to him, I shall have bought the remaining third as well.”

The quote shows his business like attitude to gain more wealth and power than he already has. The grandfather was displeased by the fact he only owned 2/3 of Masood’s land. He wanted to be in possession of all his inherited wealth.
iv.
“You’re still fifty pounds in debt to me, we’ll talk later”
This is one of the most important quotes that the grandfather says to show the greed in the story. He showed no mercy towards Masood, even though he is looked up to as such a great person and an influential figure, and he was breaking the Golden Rule they are supposed to live by
“Do onto others as you would yourself”
. Not only did this quote show his greed, but it also showed that he was a hypocrite when it came to his faith.
Question 1:
Why in your opinion did the little boy force himself to throw up the dates at the end of the story?
The little boy threw up the dates in our opinion because he didn't want anything to do with his grandfather and his dirty doings. This is a man he looked up to and wanted to be exactly like him, until now. He felt the dates represented who his grandfather really was.
Why do you think he went from adoring and wanting to be like his grandfather to almost gaining hate towards him?
Question 2:
He went from adoring his grandfather to hating him, because for someone who has been teaching him about the Koren, and assisting him in being true to his faith go and treat someone as such, built hatred. He feels betrayed and lied to.
Question 3:
What do you think is the symbolic meaning behind him going to a place he admired, then in a way defacing by throwing up into a river?
Him going to the place he once admired and throwing up, represents him hating his grandfather. For he use to see his grandfather as someone as pure as the water in the river, him throwing up into the river is kind of like his grandfather once being someone of such faith to someone who is selfish, greedy, lies, and treats others badly.
Question 4:
Did you expect his grandfather to condone in such business
I personally did not expect the grandfather to be involved in such activities. Taking someone's hard work and selling it and not even giving them any of the product, selfish and not at all what his faith claimed to live by would, take part in.
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