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Sample Essay – Arab American Literature

Words 1,382

Edward Said’s Out of Place is a Memoir discussing his life and experiences. His parents were Palestinians living in Cairo. They were exceptionally prosperous, because of the father’s success as a merchant selling office supplies and equipment in Jerusalem, Cairo, and ultimately Beirut.

They were Arab Christians. His mother, was the granddaughter of the Baptist minister in Nazareth “. The Said family was Palestinian by origin, mainly resident in Cairo and possessors of American passports.. Although being aware of the rootlessness, the guiding force of Said’s growing up in Cairo is warm and familial. His uprootedness and the strange way his family functioned as part of a colonized bourgeois gave him an enduring sense of exclusion but, with that, particular powers of analysis.

A basic component of Said’s identity is his sense of exile, of being, as he defines it, where you don’t wish to be. He has lived away from his childhood home in Cairo and his national home in Palestine. This genuine feeling is intensely conveyed in the memoir. Significantly, Said’s subjective sense of exile links in multiple ways with his definition of the intellectual as a eternal exile.(Said 1994, 35) Exile, notes Said, has two significant characteristics: It is, first, not only an actual condition but a metaphorical one as well; you don’t need to be driven from your home to sense an exile in society. It is a sense of

“Restlessness, movement, continuously being unsettled, and unsettling others. You cannot go back to some earlier and perhaps more steady condition of being at home; and alas, you can never fully arrive, be at one with your new home or situation.”(Said 1994, 39)

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