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The Despair and Destruction Revenge Can Cause-by Kaylynn Larson

11/19/2019 3:44 pm

The first picture included is a representation of how women were treated and disfigured during the civil war that broke out among Algerians in the book In The Name Of God. As the terrorists also are known as the fundamentalists ransack, kill, rape and dismember men, women, and children from their community and surrounding towns. In the book as the men, usually of the younger generation would rally behind a few key leaders, they would common marry a captured woman. Then they would have their way with them in a “godly embrace” since they have been wed, then they would disfigure them, cut off their breasts like in the picture and leave them to die. This is a common misfortune that is happening to women of all ages in the book. 

This book focuses on five young men, who all are on different paths, their lives are intertwined with the usual hardships of life. Power, pleasure, desire is deeply seeded in a few, they plot and utilize religion as a way to climb to power. Desire to covet that with which they feel entitled to lead the young men down a path of despair and destruction. They tear their homeland into two. Pitting families and friends against each other all out of differentiating reasons for revenge. With power comes turnover, as one member steps out of line, another is there to stab him in the back and take his place. A small love story is in the midst of the power struggle, which as most tend to lead to death and hatred, so does this one. As the friends are pitted against each other the lines of respect and brotherhood are blurred. In the end, the one who seems to covet the least and only wish to be included is left standing as the victor. But, what has he won? A land tore apart, the stench of death and deceit on the horizon, and a once beautiful view, now only filled with graves. What kind of homeland is this, how much power have you gained if you have no one to share it with? 

Throughout the book, the author does a great job of blurring metaphors and foreshadowing. Utilizing animalistic behaviors to convey the personalities and traits of the lead characters in the book. The author builds each moment with sly foreshadowing that hits the reader like a brick when it comes full circle. Some characters no longer have humanistic qualities, but bird-like behaviors. The predators in this book, at times, are stalking in plain sight, yet the other characters are wrapped up in their own problems to see what’s truly lurking in the shadows. Then finally we see the ugly face of revenge in a few characters. We see what happens when gender is silenced, and unable to express self, and how it rears up and bites back with all the venom of a viper. We see how gender suppression can cause a community to spiral into chaos and death.  Within that spiral, other predators go unnoticed, then strike at the weakest moment changing the power dynamic. 

In this book, Algerian men portray many socially acceptable and expected behaviors of what it means to be a man, to be manly. The typical strong, healthy, hard-working youth is a sign of masculinity. Providing for a family, laying down the law, and keeping their women in check, is also a sign of masculinity. For a few characters in the book, having a decent education and either working for the government or religiously following the religious practices of the community at first is also very masculine. As the book progresses some of these paradigms are flipped and are no longer looked at as masculinity or worth. Within these broad levels of the male gender, social standing is paralleled. Those that work for the government, are higher in the religious ranks are looked at as being very manly and provide for the family. This too shifts, those now that are skilled with their hands and are able to kill without remorse are now higher on both the social class standing and are considered to be more of a man.

The ability to take a life, be a callous leader, and teach masses how to flip the moral switch is now key. This group of young men are now at the top of the food chain in social standing and gender. As the reader is catapulted into this world their own definitions of masculinity become askew. Follow the one who causes the most chaos, in hopes to remain unseen. Stay in the good graces of those at the top and maybe your daughters will be spared. The tactic of brute force, fear and warmongering are usually dominated by a specific gender. Throughout history dictatorship, power, and death are accompanied by the ideas and thoughts of a man, and his level of masculinity, which is never questioned.  

The way the author presented these topics helps the reader to understand the level of severity of war, especially civil war, and what it does to a community, a race and a country. Letting the reader immerse themselves in the small truths and the scarcity of the illusion that is in fiction, assists in capturing the audience. However, as the author took a pen name to publish the book, it could lead some to speculate the danger and small truths this book reveals about his culture and home. 

Issues that arise in this book, the civil war, the grotesque treatment of enemies and of our fellow man, are not just represented in this boo. Sadly this happens all around the world and has been documented time and time again in history. I don’t like the messages in the book, but I am also not naive enough to believe that it is only fiction and it never happened. I do appreciate works of fiction like this one if only to help open the eyes of readers in different populations that have not had to witness this first hand. But, it also gives a voice to those whose lives have been affected by the despair and sadness that has plagued mankind throughout history.