Grobar The Jewish-Muslim couple move to Haifa but, if one war has made a hero out of Ossyane, another, much closer to home, is destined to split him from his wife and separate him from the world and the people that he loves. Onur rated it did not like it Dec 23, I do not understand how people enjoy this book that much. Preview — Ports of Call by Amin Maalouf. Account Options Sign in.

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It contends that identity is complex, flux, and not limited to what is inherited; it is rather a psychological, political, and social amalgamation. It aims at proving that this novel is an example that Maalouf provides to show the challenges that characters of different identities face, and the obstacles that hinder them from assimilation.

The study concludes that it might be possible for people, in parallel with the characters of the novel, to challenge the identity predicament that the world is witnessing nowadays, and accept diversities as a way of life, rather than a reason for waging wars.

Keywords: Amin Maalouf, Ports of Call, identity, multiculturalism Introduction Identity gained its prominence in modern literature and criticism as an inevitable result of immigrations, colonization, and globalization.

The global village where we live mixes different origins, races, languages, cultures, and religions, it also allows the voices of the individuals or groups, including the minorities, to be heard all over the world.

Identity, however, is a problematic concept that is broadly applied as an offshoot of different approaches, such as feminism, gender studies, psychoanalysis, colonialism post-colonialism, and cultural studies.

The quest for identity has become an essential theme in the post-colonial literature of different nations, such as Africa, the Arab World, and the Caribbean regions. Said shifts the attention to those who have been marginalized for so long, and who are deprived of their own voice.

This can also be true about identity in general. Therefore, the characteristics that people assume as innate parts of their identities are mere simulacra that they will probably give up once they change their beliefs. As a result, the two characters face several obstacles, which prove the difficulty of the assimilation of different identities.

Maalouf raises the question of the possibility of assimilation through his characters; he, however, keeps the answer of the question cryptic and suspended for readers to decide. Maalouf significantly portrays the East through its own perspective because Maalouf himself is originally Lebanese. The researcher analyzes the novel alongside with other novels by Maalouf in light of the theories of Orientalism Said , dialogism Bakhtin , intertextuality Kristeva , and hetero-lingualism Grutman.

In Ports of Call, the setting is Eastern, as the events begin from the decline of the Ottoman Empire, and last until the Civil War in Lebanon, passing through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, some of the names of the places and the characters are Arabic and Turkish, which eschews the discourse of Eurocentrism.

Accordingly, Dakroub perceives the novel within the context of pan-orientalism and postcolonial identity. The study analyzes the unique identities of the characters of the novel, and explores the dilemma they go through to overcome identity difference. Complex Identities in the Novel Ports of Call is not concerned with the identity of a specific nation; it is rather about identity as a universal issue. The novel presents examples of complicated identities that cannot be limited to one origin, nationality, or religion.

Ossyane starts telling the narrator his life story beginning from his Turkish Ottoman ancestors and his childhood.

The couple meets again in Beirut and decides to get married. As civil marriage is not allowed in Lebanon, they get married in France. Then, the Palestinian-Israeli war wages, and prevents the husband and the wife from any kind of contact, which causes Ossyane to suffer a severe trauma, which gets worse after the death of his father.

Salem seizes the opportunity, sends Ossyane to an asylum, and usurps the fortunes of the family. Nevertheless, she uses a disguised identity, and meets her father who insists to get better for her sake. Ossyane escapes from the asylum during the civil war in Lebanon. He travels to France and sends to his wife to meet there. He waits for her, while the narrator is watching impatiently, and Clara eventually arrives.

In other words, the construction of the identity is a complicated process that is influenced by several causes before the individual and the surrounding circumstances contribute to its development. Though identity is flux and subject to changing, societies expect individuals to perform certain roles that fit their identities.

If they fail to perform such roles, however, these individuals are marginalized. He thinks that homeland does not only mean the place in which one is born; it is for him, the place that protects and embraces its people.

Katebdar is also unconventional because he is an enlightened person, who is passionate about art and science, and who educates his sons as well as his daughter. On the other hand, he is a strict person who does not give his children the freedom of choice to decide for their future. His unusual character is obvious through the names that he chooses for his children, Ossyane, Iffet, and Salem.

Ossyane and Clara, however, reveal their real names to each other when they meet. Multiplicity defines each person in the world today. William, , p. When Ossyane travels to France to join the school of medicine, he does not seem to suffer xenophobia, and he does not find difficulty in learning.

When the German invasion takes place, Ossyane acts like any French individual; he weeps and feels sorry just like the others. Ossyane is able, then, to be part of the new society without feelings of inferiority or difference. Ossyane comments that he is raised up in a way that prepares him to tolerate diversities. Multicultural Societies Identity is not only about the past and the present; the future of the individuals or nations is also involved.

The novel is replete with indications of the importance of the future. The world will not overcome the clashes over identity except by planning for a promising future. This, however, is not an invitation to ignore the past; it is rather a reminder for people that the world can witness positive changes in the future if discrimination is over.

There are two paradigms of multicultural societies in the novel: the counterfeiting workshop and the asylum. The counterfeiting workshop in the novel is a symbol of the future that Clara and Ossyane dream of. He helps the comrades disguise their identities in order to liberate France. He also helps Clara and Ossyane in getting married by counterfeiting their official papers.

The workshop reveals how identities are labels that prevent people from freethinking. These identities are imaginary borders that divide people and create binary oppositions and hatred. The existence of False-Papers Jacques in the novel is essential; it signifies that people can give up the imaginary identities they assume, and establish new ones based on equality and love.

The counterfeiting workshop stands for a different world that gives equal identities for all people. People there work without waiting for a reward, neither from other people nor from God. They resist the violence and spread freedom. The asylum, on the other hand, is a small picture of tyranny in the world.

Dawwab, the owner of the asylum is obsessed with money, power, and authority. He uses his power to limit the freedom of the others, and to destroy their past and memories. He prevents the patients from using any means of communication, or from reading recent books. Ossyane is changed because he loses his enthusiasm and his sense of rebellion. Lobo, is strikingly an ideal person in a dystopian world. He lives in the asylum though he is not mentally disordered. Lobo plays music when the whole place is miserable.

Contrariwise, Sikkin enjoys the suffering of people. He symbolizes the super powers of the world who observe wars and genocides indifferently. In spite of the melancholic milieu that surrounds Ossyane in the asylum, he never loses faith in the future. Ossyane is torn between the future and the past. He is not able to ask about the soup that time because he is a fugitive who has no papers; thus, not allowed to get involved into conversations about identity.

His encounter with this woman makes him stronger and more decisive to go on in his quest towards liberation. When Ossyane leaves the asylum during the civil war in Lebanon, he goes to his house for the last time, and collects all of the keys. Palestinian Refugees took their keys after the Nakbah Exodus in because they have hopes for the future, a ray of light that they will return to their homes. Ossyane, Clara, and Nadia swerve away from the conventions of their societies.

They attempt to overcome the obstacles because they believe in the power of their will as individuals, and the power of their love. Readers accept that Clara becomes the closest person to Ossyane, as his wife and beloved. They have mutual things, as they aspire to share the same future. Identity, thus, is not totally inherited. This idea shows itself clearly in the characters of Ossyane and Salem.

Though they are brothers, they do not have any mutual characteristics. Salem is a threat to the identity of the family because he is a smuggler. His father and other members of the family are jailed because of him, and the father is marginalized by the society until Ossyane comes back from the resistance to Lebanon as a hero. Salem is killed near the house; Ossyane, however, does not mention this part of the story, either because he does not know, or perhaps because his brother is now part of the unwanted history, while Ossyane will be a memorable figure whose name is mentioned in the books of history.

Salem is an evil example of an individual; he finds it easy to destroy and harm others for his own interests. Surprisingly, Ossyane finds more things in common with Clara, who has a completely different background, and with the passerby to whom he tells the story, than with his brother Salem. The unnamed narrator becomes more than a stranger in the end. The conflicts between the Muslims and the Jews urge Clara and Ossyane to dream of peace and tranquility.

The novel, however, is not Utopian; that is to say, in spite of the reunion of the couple in the end, readers are not sure whether they will keep their marriage or separate again. Such skepticism occurs in the hearts of the readers because the final conversation of the couple remains a mystery.

No group in the world can claim to have identical identities because each individual, as the novel portrays, has a particular identity that is solely his or hers.

Ports of Call is a call for accepting different identities all over the world. References Austin, J. How to do things with words. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Bhabha, H. The location of culture. New York: Routledge. Butler, J. Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenological and feminist theory.


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Ports of Call by Amin Maalouf


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