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What is Zahra’s reaction to the fighting surrounding her in context to her relationship with her family, and the sniper, and in a larger sense her outlook on life.

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Daniel Desmond IB English Year 1 HL Ms. Ben-Nasr 03 June 2001 What is Zahra's reaction to the fighting surrounding her in context to her relationship with her family, and the sniper, and in a larger sense her outlook on life. Surrounding her in almost every facet of her life, the war, for Zahra, acts like a canopy under which she resides. The canopy, however, is not a protective blanket. For, despite Zahra's almost total disregard for the bombs falling around her, she replies to the instruments of war with anger and resentment. The war draws her family further away from her, and in one sense, helps her to escape. On the other hand, her brother, and her lover, both signify the fighting, and they cause her stance on life to contain "promises only of menace." Zahra's chronology is not entirely composed of war, and for that matter, the first part of the novel contains little about war. The first part of the novel, of course, deals with Zahra's childhood and her very harsh maturation into a young woman. With the bearings of the war being absent from her younger years, the continual burden placed on Zahra is that of her family. It comes as no surprise, then, that Zahra should feel liberated by her family's exile to the village. ...read more.


Those who have only seen wars and hospitals in movies have nothing of the truth." (135) Ahmad, along with his friends who visited, appeared to Zahra a transformed race who found no injustice in their wrongdoings. "They belonged to a world that was not my world, not a world for those who dared not lift a gun. ... I could never understand their logic. It was a logic which confused war with life." (143) Why then, the reader must ask, considering this theoretical separation of race, was Zahra driven into the arms of the sniper, an entity composed of war? The visit by Zahra's Qarina had left an indelible sense of a man's weight on her body. This weight, symbolizing Zahra's lack of human contact, drove her outside and into the arms of the war. The same metamorphosis led Zahra to risk her life. The fact that she chose the sniper as her man of contact may signify a renewed indifference in Zahra. The desire to be with him was so strong it superseded the sights and sounds of war around her, and the risk of death. She asked herself, "Was it a normal thing I was doing, closing all doors of escape behind me?" (147) After the physical meeting of two bodies which Zahra had never completely experienced, the contrast between the war outside and Zahra's life became even more transformed and Zahra found this instrument of war, the sniper, to be as imperative to life as air. ...read more.


To both Zahra and Ahmad, brother and sister, the war is a necessary influence in their life. Without fully realizing her own need for war, Zahra questions, Why was he so afraid of the war ending? Because he would then amount to nothing? Overnight, he would become a ghost stalking the streets in which, on the day before, he had been a living presence whose footsteps in the darkness and whose rifle could be used to obtain some bread or a few liters of petrol. After that the gun would lie forgotten in some corner, conveying only memories. (165) Ahmad's distorted words, "my sister, I fight for all the under-privileged. I stand with the minorities" are contradicted by all the various contraband he receives without answer to Zahra's probing questions. "Where was Samir R? Did he still live? If so, did he wonder about the fate of his gold watch?", or "If the duck could speak, would it tell me to leave it alone? Would it ask me to set it free, so it could fly back to where it came from?" (171) The same occurrence that has levied disgust for Ahmad has neutralized the torments of Zahra's family. "My father's leather belt no longer holds any fears for me. The war has made it powerless." (173) The faltering strength of her father's belt represent the ties severed between Zahra and her family brought on by the war. ...read more.

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