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Betrayal in "In the Country of Men"

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Elaine Kim

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Betrayal in "In the Country of Men"

Betrayal in "In the Country of Men"
divided loyaties in Suleiman's family :
Najwa is against rebellious ideas
according to culture, Najwa must support her husband no matter what
set in Tripoli, capital of Libya
during the Qaddafi Regime
extreme oppression
no freedom of speech, religion, or thought
harsh consequences for dissenters (torture/death)
coming of age story of a 9 - year - old boy named Suleiman
only child, lives with his mother Najwa and his father Faraj, who is an international businessman
Suleiman = best friends with next door neighbour Kareem
by Hisham Matar
world literature novel

In the Country of Men
1st person p.o.v.
child's bewildering experience in oppressed Libya
Main Ideas
In this novel, constant betrayal of trust between central characters highlights the core ethical issues that make up the plot.
2 Aspects of Betrayal
1. Friendship
relationship between Suleiman & Kareem's families
2. Family
relationships in Suleiman's family
Can one aspect of betrayal be more immoral than the other?
Suleiman & Kareem's families
Example #4
"Although i was much younger than Kareem, he always treated me as an equal. When there was a dispute between him and any of the other boys, I took his side." - Suleiman
Example #1
"Everybody knows your father is a tr-"
"They laughed. Kareem stared at me."
Example # 2
"`You can't tell him you didn't mean it'....`You can't say it was an accident.'"
`No,' I heard myself say."
`But Kareem is your best friend.'
`Yes,' I whispered, and the tears fell.
`Traitor! Traitor!'
Example #3
`No need for you to be so close to that boy,' she said.
She had never called him `that boy' before.
`This is a time for walking beside the wall,' she said." - Najwa to Suleiman on Kareem
"...were like two lost sisters who had finally found each other."
"...no two days would pass before one called or visited the other."- Suleiman on Najwa's and Salma's friendship
"Ustath Rashid had gifted Baba with his `undying loyalty'..."
"Ustath Rashid said, `No,' when Baba's name was mentioned. I knew that this was the opposite of betrayal."
"`I wouldn't worry if I were you,' he said. `Your father was very cooperative, melted like butter.'" - government official to Suleiman
Suleiman betrays his father
Example #1
Example #2
Example #3
Example #4
"`You are children playing with fire...Stay home, look the other way...work hard and get us out of here...For your son's sake.'" -Najwa
"`You are all fools...But no, I must be a good wife, loyal and unquestioning, support my man regardless." - Najwa
"`Faraj can fly after his dreams all he wants, but not me, I won't follow. I will get my son out of this place if it takes the last of me.'" -Najwa
"`He's innocent. If he's done anything, it's because he was urged by others....She began to weep again. 'Please, you must believe me.'" - Najwa to Masoud (govt. official)
(Suleiman to himself)
You? Your child?
Your spouse?
family loyalties tested
You or your friends?
- frienship bonds tested
Are some bonds worth more than others?
Are some kinds of betrayals more sinful than others?
Problems arise as it is revealed that Faraj is secretly a leader in a political rebellion against the government
Kareem's father Ustath Rashid is accused of being a traitor and arrested
"Apart from making me lose trust in the assumption that `good things happen to good people'...I had no illustions that I or Baba or Mama were immune from being burned by the madness. - Suleiman
"`Do you know where he lives?'
`No.' Then, fearing what he might say next, I said, `Yes.'"
"`Nasser is a very nice person,' I added. But he had hung up." - Suleiman talking to a government official on the phone
The continuous questions of betrayal and loyalty, especially between friends and within Suleiman's family, illuminates the ethical issues that are the focus of this novel.
Early Adulthood
Full transcript