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Campus News

Rockford.edu / News

In the Name of Men by Casey Sheetz

11/19/2019 11:22 pm

The photograph shown in in black and white. It shows two men holding their hand out against a large crowd, most likely in a protest. Within the crowd there are men, women, and children yelling and waving flags. 

Background/Context:

In the Name of God as a whole represents how conflicts, tensions, and violence have developed as a whole in Algeria, especially in the time period of which it was written. Algeria has a long history of war against governments. Algeria didn’t even gain its own independence until the 1960s, when they finally broke free from France. Keeping this in mind, Algeria was a very young country when In the Name of God was written. This means that the citizens were still figuring out what kind of country they would be and who they truly were. This leads to conflict, eventually between the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and the government and leads to many more years of war. The novel follows a group of friends and how rising tensions turned them against each other. Their social backgrounds and personalities separate them into different sides of the war and the result is a political conflict that turns personal. The author, who was hiding his identity with a fake name, was actually a lieutenant during the war at the time in which he was writing and the book was published. He eventually left the army to pursue his writing career and revealed his own identity as the author. Because of his experiences, he makes a purpose to emphasize the dangers and violence that arise in communities that were once peaceful and between people that were once friends. He includes graphic scenes of war and violent horrors that many believed were fiction until he revealed his identity. The idea that his writing was based on his own experiences and that many of it was true horrified many people and made the book so much more disturbing and controversial than it was to begin with.

 

Writing Techniques:

One writing technique that this author used was intense description. Many authors use description, but with much less purpose. This is seen all throughout the book, but an example can be found on page 175: “Zane turned the old man’s decapitated body over gingerly, with the toe of his shoe, and felt it. Satisfied, he wiped the bloodstained blade on the dead man’s robe, grabbed the suitcase, and vanished into the night like an evil spirit” (Khadra 175). Much like in this scene, using very detailed and sometimes disturbing description makes the readers understand each part of the novel in the eyes of someone that is there. His goal was to make the readers uncomfortable in the way that anyone who experienced this first-hand was uncomfortable. He gives great detailed descriptions of every room, every action, every person, and every situation. This is so the readers cannot help but to acknowledge the harsh truths that they didn’t want to know about living in the lives of these characters.

 

Social Constructs:

The novel shows a lot of toxic masculinity, and in the case of many characters, we see how it develops in this society. Part of it begins when so much responsibility is taken away from women. Women are nearly always put at the bottom of the power scale. However, this greatly affects men negatively, just as well. Taking away responsibilities from women means putting it on them. The lives and welfare of their jobs, their families, their economy, and their government is the responsibility of men. With this, comes a lot of anxiety and easily self-consciousness. Often with this anxiety and self-consciousness comes a toxic masculinity. Since this creates such a competitive atmosphere, a lot of unhealthy greed and hatred between men can develop. Men will be disregarded for the slightest error. One part of the novel in which we see this is with Zane the Dwarf. Zane is a man with dwarfism, and since the beginning of the novel, he was completely disregarded and disrespected by other men. Seen for nothing other than his disability, he was ridiculed and made terribly self-conscious. He began to show his attempts to make up with that with fancy clothing and an egotistical attitude, which is commonly where the toxic masculinity begins. The readers were given a perspective in which we could closely watch his transition from an insecure man to the man that betrays everyone and technically gets what he wants in terms of overpowering other men. This example demonstrated the idea that toxic masculinity is forced onto men by society, often due to unrealistically high expectations which often lead to dangerous levels of self-consciousness. Demonstrating this idea in this way could possibly worsen the attitude of men who read it. Being pointed out as sensitive and egotistical is a way to further hurt their egos and lead to more toxic masculinity. However, awareness is a requirement for change, so it is a start in the right direction.

 

Reactions:

This novel shows a really important topic that everyone should understand. The topic of war is never easy to discuss. However, if we do not do so, we will never feel the necessity to make changes to prevent and stop them. This novel reminds me of the fact that ignorance is bliss. We, especially as Americans, but generally as first-world countries, choose to ignore the violence, hunger, and overall extreme poverty and struggles that people in other countries go through. This novel was not that much long ago, and the ideas presented in the novel seem so ancient and so orthodox because we are not educated ourselves to the fact the they still exist commonly. In some situations, we can put in good efforts to help. However, there is so much more happening in countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, especially, that we do not know or understand simply because we do not choose to educate ourselves. This novel will do a lot more than nudge someone away from ignorant bliss.