War Effect on Iraqi Literature Characters Response Essay

Pages: 13 (3835 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Written: October 20, 2019

He just ends up being the same guy without any meaning in his life.

Passage 5: “She looked up at me like she was scared, and I was also scared, but I knew what I was supposed to do.”

The narrator is about to have sex just because he feels he is supposed to. It has no meaning beyond that. It is just what his peer tells him to do.

Passage 6: “They ended up double-teaming some tourist, or at least they said they did. Either way, I’m glad I wasn’t there” (63).

The narrator shows his decency again. He is like a Holden Caufield type of character, despising his surroundings yet feeling trapped by them, unable to break free though he wants to.

Passage 7: “Listen,” I said again, “I need this” (66).

The narrator wants to lie down with Rachel just so he can have real human contact not with a drunk woman named 38 but with someone he was close to or at least connected to in the past. He shows he needs something human.

Passage 8: “Rachel starting tell me about him in a quiet voice…” (67).

The narrator is thinking he could have Rachel again but she blows that idea out of the water. She has another man in her life now.

Passage 9: “I want you to be disgusted” (71).

The narrator tells a man in the bar that he does not want to be respected for collecting bodies off the streets in the Marines. He feels there is nothing dignified in what he does.

Passage 10: “I never saw Rachel again but we’re Facebook friends” (71)

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This shows the banality of it all—there is no real human connection for the narrator. His life is meaningless. He notes only that he has been deployed again and again. He is stuck on repeat.

Part Two

Godlessness and God-Wannabe’s in “Killers” and “Bodies

Response Essay on War Effect on Iraqi Literature Characters Assignment

War is dehumanizing, as can be seen in the stories “The Killers and the Compass” by Hassan Blasim and “Bodies” by Phil Klay. Both stories are touched by war in Iraq. The former is told from the perspective of the younger brother of a stone-cold killer Arab in Iraq. The latter is told from the perspective of a U.S. Marine who collects dead bodies of the streets and has no meaning or real human connection in his life. Both worlds are devoid of human compassion, torn apart by the senseless atrocities of war, hostility, aggression and irrational violence. This paper will use the psychological approach to compare and contrast the ways war impacts the main characters in these two stories and show that in the case of the narrator of “Bodies” he is impacted mainly by a meaningless that extends from a kind of Godlessness, since God is never mentioned in his story at all. In the case of the narrator of the “Killers,” the character is impacted by God-wannabe’s like his brother Abu Hadid who desperately wants to be God so that he can be in control of his own destiny and the world around him by using violence to manipulate others and protect himself.

In “The Killers and the Compass,” Blasim writes that “You have to learn how to make yourself God in this world” (13). This is what Abu Hadid says to his younger brother in the beginning of the story. He means to say that in a war-torn world, you have to make yourself feared because it is either be feared and make others serve you or be afraid and serve others. There is an obvious rejection of traditional morality in Abu Hadid’s philosophy. He is one who believes that one determines his own fate, that one should be his own superman, his own God, as he puts it. In “Bodies,” there is no discussion of God. There is only the narrator telling his story, which is about how insane the Marine Corps life is and how he has no real human connection to anyone. He enlists in the Marines hoping it will give him something, improve his life, but he notes, “I don’t think it made me any better than anyone else” (Klay 57).

Life is not good for the narrator of “The Killers,” either and that is because his example on how to live comes from a sadistic older brother, who was informed himself by a sadistic father and a sadistic society: “My father would assail her with a hail of insults, and when her endurance broke she would whine aloud, ‘Why, good Lord? Why? Take me and save me.’ Only then would my father stand up, take the cord out of his headdress, and whip her nonstop for half an hour, spitting at her throughout,” writes Blasim (14). One can see that Abu Hadid grew up surrounded by violence even in his own home. His own father would pull out of his own person a weapon with which to beat his mother. It showed that the only attitude that the boys learned was an attitude of hostility and aggression, that one should interact with human beings in no other way. Abu Hadid’s Ego is thus informed by this type of violence. It is all around him in the world. The story of the innocent Waheed is more information for his Ego to find revolting and to think that he must be his own God to fend it all off and care for himself. He must be as violent and more, even crazier than the others, to be God: “Within a few minutes the plaster set hard and Waheed’s arms were trapped in the barrel. The Afghans pulled down Waheed’s trousers and raped him one by one” (Blasim 22). Such a fate for Waheed is not one Abu Hadid wants. His Ego would not permit it. And that is the lesson he is teaching his younger brother—to be God by killing others before they can hurt you or kill you. Thus, the conclusion of Murad Harba’s story about Waheed shows that there is nothing but callousness and hatred in the world and that people are not worth anything. It is meant to reinforce the idea that killing people is not bad because people themselves in general are not good. Only Waheed seems an innocent and to preserve one’s innocence one must be hard like the plaster and indifferent to killing.

The narrator of “Bodies” has no such Ego. His Ego is destroyed by the mundane world of his existence, by the meaninglessness of his job, by his detachment from others. He has been taught nothing about the purpose of life. He has no interactions with others except through meaningless sex. He is decent enough to understand it is meaningless and even shameful. He states of his colleague, “They ended up double-teaming some tourist, or at least they said they did. Either way, I’m glad I wasn’t there” (Klay 63). The narrator shows his decency by being glad he only had to take part in one meaningless sexual encounter because of his colleague. He is like a Holden Caufield type of character, despising his surroundings yet feeling trapped by them, unable to break free though he wants to. The war for him has done nothing—he hoped it would. Instead, his world was already decimated in his own small town. Meaning had been drained out of life for him in small town America.

Meaning for the narrator of “Killers” comes from gangsterism—from being self-centered. For instance, he tells the story of the local repair man: “He used to give me and the gang pills in return for puncturing the tires of cars in the neighborhood, so that his business would flourish” (Blasim 16). This passage shows the degeneracy of the neighborhood: there is no such thing as honest business. Everyone is out to scam someone else. If there is no business for a repair man, he pays street thugs to drum up business for him by smashing and destroying others’ property. There is no respect for one’s property. There is only self-interest and emptiness. It is so bad that his brother cannot help but compare himself to the fish (it is his Id and Superego pressing him into asking about the fish—his own Ego will not permit him to think of himself in this manner). “Do you think the fish are happy in the tank?” my brother asked, calm and serious. “As long as they eat and drink and swim, they’re fine,” the man replied, without looking away from the television screen” (Blasim 18). The life of the fish in the aquarium is a reflection of Abu Hadid’s inner life that he cannot acknowledge because it would show him how small he really is. He feels trapped in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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