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Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Instruction: How did the events that happened at the end of the book happen? how did fear,racial profiling and prejudice lead to Zeitouns false imprisonment?

Literary Analysis Essay of Zeitoun
            Zeitoun recounts the story of a Syrian-American, Abdularahman Zeitoun and his family at a time when their house in New Orleans was hit by the hurricane Katrina. Some of the main themes of the book are prejudice and racism. These two main themes allowed the author to show the fragility of constitutional rights particularly among immigrants. What was most interesting about this was that the prejudice experienced by the protagonist seemed to be more devastating that the hurricane that ravaged the country.

As the category 5 hurricane approached their city, Zeitoun decided to stay and watch the house while his wife and children left for Baton Rouge. At landfall, the hurricane caused serious flooding which went up to the second floor of many houses. Zeitoun, decided to ride his canoe to distribute his supplies as well as check on his neighbours. Just a little over the aftermath of Katrina , Zeitoun along with three others ,were arrested and taken away at gunpoint by the U.S. Army National Guardsmen and some local police. This was probably the most gripping part of the book, as he has gone missing for six full days. Throughout his ordeal, Zeitoun was not allowed to communicate his family and was instead, locked in a cage. Needless to say, he was mistaken for a terrorist. More than this, the protagonist became a subject of humiliation by the officers inside a makeshift prison for more than 20 days and was refused of any medical care and attention.

The unfortunate experience of the protagonist in the story only suggests that up until now, prejudice and racial profiling is still rampant in a country that promotes “equality”. Despite of absence of any warrant of arrest, Zeitoun was arrested, verbally and physically abused, and was denied of any due process – all without any formal charges. This situation is a powerful indication of the country’s dystopia during the Bush administration’s fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, the authorities were seeing everything with a dark lens which has ultimately caused an innocent man to be incarcerated for no apparent reason other than being suspected as a terrorist.

The destruction experienced by New Orleans as an act nature. However, everything that fallowed it can be considered as a mere act of prejudice and neglect. In fact, it is an outright neglect of human rights that the authorities did not bother to check primarily because the person being in question is of a different nationality. The experience of the protagonist is by no means an isolated case. The institutional dysfunction is evident in the news and the media as a number of people with Middle Eastern descent are being stereotypes as “terrorist”. More than this, such racism has become a part of their daily lives for some people. In the book for instance, the writer states:

“Zeitoun’s frustration with some Americans was like that of a disappointed parent. He was so content in this country, so impressed with and loving of its opportunities, but then why sometimes, did Americans fall short of their best selves? If you got him started in the subject, it was the end of any pleasant meal” (Eggers 37).

It is in this line that the protagonist expresses his frustration about the racism of some Americans. More significantly, it suggests how America as a nation not evolved despite our beliefs that we are one of the most advanced and developed countries in the world. And this is evident with how our government as well as its people disregard the rights of other nationalities and instead, see them as “terrorists”.

Works Cited
Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun. NY: Penguin Books Limited, 2011

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