Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories Characters

Ghassan Kanafani
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Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Abu Qaisappears in Men in the Sun

Abu Qais rests on damp ground while he considers leaving Basra and traveling to Kuwait in order to procure more money and a better education for his children. He has a son, Qais, and his wife bares a daughter as well. He is an older man and worries about the trip. Abul Khaizuran approaches him about smuggling him to Kuwait in the water tank of the lorry that he drives for Haj Rida. Abu Qais meets with Abul Khaizuran, Assad and Marwan to discuss the terms of being smuggled to Kuwait. Assad negotiates with Abul Khaizuran for the other two men. Abu Qais agrees to the conditions and meets Abul Khaizuran, Assad and Marwan the next morning to begin their journey.

On the journey, Abu Qais takes turns with Assad and Marwan riding in the sun and shade. They hide in the water tank of the lorry when they come to the customs station at Safwan. Once Abul Khaizuran passes through Safwan and lets them out of the water tank, they complain about the heat in the tank. Again, they hide in the water tank as they come to the customs station at Mutlaa. Unfortunately, Abul Khaizuran is delayed by Abu Baqir, a customs official. Abu Qais dies in the water tank while they are at Mutlaa. Abul Khaizuran considers burying his body in the desert, but instead he dumps it in Kuwait for the municipality to pick up.

Assadappears in Men in the Sun

Assad is tricked in the past by a smuggler so he attempts to negotiate with the fat proprietor to pay to be smuggled once he arrives in Kuwait, but the fat proprietor refuses. Assad borrows money from his uncle who loans it to him only so that Assad can marry his cousin, Nada, sooner, but Assad does not want to marry Nada. Assad rents a room in the Shatt hotel which is how he meets Marwan. After Marwan is propositioned by Abul Khaizuran, Marwan shares the information with Assad who meets with Abul Khaizuran, Abu Qais and Marwan to discuss the terms of being smuggled to Kuwait. Assad negotiates the deal with Abul Khaizuran for Abu Qais, Marwan and himself. He is very insightful and suggests that Haj Rida is involved with the smuggling. Eventually, he strikes a deal with Abul Khaizuran and meets Abul Khaizuran, Abu Qais and Marwan the next morning to begin their journey.

On the journey, Assad takes turns with Abu Qais and Marwan riding in the sun and shade. They hide in the water tank of the lorry when they come to the customs station at Safwan. Once Abul Khaizuran passes through Safwan and lets them out of the water tank, they complain about the heat in the tank. Again, they hide in the water tank as they come to the customs station at Mutlaa. Unfortunately, Abul Khaizuran is delayed by Abu Baqir, a customs official. Assad dies in the water tank while they are at Mutlaa. Abul Khaizuran considers burying his body in the desert, but instead he dumps it in Kuwait for the municipality to pick up.

Marwanappears in Men in the Sun

Marwan is unable to afford paying fifteen dinars to the fat proprietor to be smuggled to Kuwait. In desperation, he threatens to call the police on the proprietor, causing the man to slap him. Marwan leaves the office in discouragement. On the street, Abul Khaizuran approaches Marwan and agrees to smuggle him for five dinars as long as Marwan helps him find additional men who want to be smuggled. Marwan writes a long letter to his mother and visits his father, who he does not hate for leaving his family because he believes his father still loves them. He meets with Abu Qais, Assad and Abul Khaizuran to discuss the plans for their journey to Kuwait, they come to an agreement, and he meets them the next morning.

On the journey, Marwan takes turns with Abu Qais and Assad riding in the sun and shade. They hide in the water tank of the lorry when they come to the customs station at Safwan. Once Abul Khaizuran passes through Safwan and lets them out of the water tank, they complain about the heat in the tank. Again, they hide in the water tank as they come to the customs station at Mutlaa. Unfortunately, Abul Khaizuran is delayed by Abu Baqir, a customs official. Marwan dies in the water tank while they are at Mutlaa. Abul Khaizuran considers burying his body in the desert, but instead he dumps it in Kuwait for the municipality to pick up.

Abul Khaizuranappears in Men in the Sun

Abul Khaizuran approaches Marwan on the street and offers to smuggle him to Kuwait. He meets with Marwan and Assad and introduces them to Abu Qais. He agrees to smuggle the men for ten dinars each. Abul Khaizuran is an excellent lorry drive who works for Haj Rida. He intends to hide the men in the water tank on the lorry. He eventually persuades the men to agree with his plan. Before reaching the customs station at Safwan, Abul Khaizuran hides the men in the water tank. He hurries through the customs station and releases the men from their temporary prison. During the drive, he remembers and mourns losing his manhood in the war.

As they approach Mutlaa, Abul Khaizuran promises the men that he will be quick; however, he is delayed when Abu Baqir harasses him about a dancer. He rushes away from Mutlaa and opens the tank to find the corpses of Assad, Marwan and Abu Qais. He mourns his companions. Abul Khaizuran considers burying the bodies in the desert, but he decides to unload the corpses for the municipality to dispose of properly. Abul Khaizuran returns to Basra, wishing that the men had banged on the side of the tank.

Narratorappears in The Land of the Sad Oranges

The narrator is the outcast in the person to whom he addresses the story's family. He feels that the patriarch of the family hates and resents him because his own father is gone. As he flees with the family from Acre, he questions the existence of a compassionate God. When he sees the revolver on the floor, he realizes Father's intentions and runs to the hills, leaving his childhood behind.

Fatherappears in The Land of the Sad Oranges

Father, in this story, packs his family, along with the narrator, and leaves Acre after the Jews attack. He seems to resent the narrator and curse the narrator's father. Father manages to obtain money to rent a house in the suburbs of Sidon where he is happy for a while. He throws cigarettes to the Arab armies when they march through town. Father sends the children to the hills to distract them from their hunger. One day, he is enraged by a small request and digs through his chest to find his revolver. He wants to kills the children and himself. Mother calms him, and Father weeps on the floor.

Sonappears in If You Were a Horse

The son in this story believes that his father hates him because his father always says that he wishes his son were a horse so that he could put a bullet through his brain. When his father goes to the country to visit friends, he finds a black leather notebook in a drawer. Based on the notes in it, he talks to Abu Muhammed who tells him that his father does not hate him; he is afraid of him. The son does not understand why his father is afraid of him. He is the best surgeon in the city, and none of his patients are afraid of him. When his father suffers from acute appendicitis, the son allows another surgeon to operate on his father when his father refuses to allow his son to treat him. After talking to the other surgeon after the operation, he learns the mystery of his father's fear relates to the reddish mark on his side that resembles the reddish mark on Barq's neck which superstition says is a mark of their victim's blood. The son questions the superstition as he walks home. He wonders if the other surgeon killed his father through negligence, thinking that it would be his fault if it were so. As he rushes back to the hospital, his footsteps sound like a horse galloping.

Abu Ibrahimappears in If You Were a Horse

Abu Ibrahim is the father of the story. He wishes his son were a horse so that he could put a bullet through his brain. He loves his son but fears him. Abu Ibrahim used to be a great expert on horses and kept a notebook on pedigrees and prices. After Barq kills his wife, he moves to the city and blames himself for not adhering to superstition and killing Barq. When he suffers from acute appendicitis, he will not allow his son to operate. After undergoing anesthesia, Abu Ibrahim rambles to the surgeon about Barq and his wife.

Barqappears in If You Were a Horse

Barq is a horse born with a red mark on his neck. Superstition states that the mark is his victim's blood, meaning he will kill someone close to the owner. Abu Ibrahim will not kill the horse because he is a beautiful thoroughbred and his most valuable possession. His notes state that Barq is the most splendid horse he has ever seen and the quietest horse he has ever heard of. One day, Barq throws Abu Ibrahim's wife, crushes her skull with his hooves and pushes her into the river. Abu Muhammed shoots Barq in the head.

Nabilappears in A Hand in the Grave

Nabil is a medical student who plans to rob a grave because he cannot afford a skeleton. He is very scared, but he packs and meets his friend, Suhail. Nabil and Suhail encourage one another in pursuing their plan until Suhail believes he touches the skeleton's eyes. It is Nabil's idea to obtain a skeleton, even though they did not need it, in order to feel like a part of the medical faculty. After this incident, he realizes that he cannot stand the sight of a skeleton and transfer to the school of law. Seven years later, he learns the true story of the cemetery.

Suhailappears in A Hand in the Grave

Suhail attends medical school with Nabil. His uncle will not give him the seventy-five lire that he needs to purchase a skeleton so he decides to rob a grave with Nabil. Suhail searches in the hole they dig for the skeleton, but he suddenly screams and claims that he stuck his fingers in its eyes. He tells the other students about the incident, is declared mad and expelled.

Nabil's Fatherappears in A Hand in the Grave

Nabil's father looks to release his rage every morning. He is proud that Nabil is a medical student, but he becomes angry when Nabil tells him of his plan to rob a grave. After hearing about the misadventure, he praises God and states that Nabil and Suhail received their due reward from the grave and the dead man. He believes the grave is that of a saint and visits it everyday to pray.

Narratorappears in Umm Saad

The narrator is Umm Saad's cousin. Umm Saad used to live with him for many years and now visits him every Tuesday. He hears Umm Saad's story about Saad joining the fedayeen. The narrator advises her against visiting Saad at the military camp and points out that asking the commander to protect Saad is not a good idea since Saad wants to go to war, not be protected.

Umm Saadappears in Umm Saad

Umm Saad lives with her cousin for many years until she moves to the camps. She still visits her cousin every Tuesday. One week, she tells her cousin that Saad, her son, has joined the fedayeen. Umm Saad would follow Saad but she has two other children to take care of. She wonders if she should visit Saad and is disappointed to learn that a mother can be discarded so easily. Umm Saad asks her cousin to tell the commander to keep Saad safe but changes her mind and wants him to tell the commander to let Saad have his way. Umm Saad believes her son should be able to go to war immediately if he wants.

Saadappears in Umm Saad

Saad is Umm Saad's son who joins the fedayeen without telling her. He does not appear in the story, but his action is the basis for the plot.

Abdallahappears in The Falcon

Abdallah is the name that Jadaan calls all of the civil engineers but specifically the narrator. He is from a different class from the guards. Abdallah hears Mubarak's story about Jadaan and the red-haired woman. He then ignores Mubarak's request to file a complaint against Jadaan. Abdallah approaches Jadaad about gazelle hunting and hears the story of Nar.

Jadaanappears in The Falcon

Jadaan is a Bedouin guard at the New Construction Company. He pays others to clean the bathrooms instead of doing it himself, inciting Mubarak's indignation. According to Mubarak, he fell in love with a red-haired woman during a gazelle hunt, but since she would not marry him, he divorced his wife and fled from his village. He goes to the New Construction Company because he wants to sit quietly and die peacefully.

Narappears in The Falcon

Nar is Jadaan's falcon. He is the best falcon in the village, and his name means "Fire." One day, Nar circles a gazelle and then perches. He refuses to eat for a week until he dies.

Narratorappears in Letter from Gaza

The narrator writes a letter to his friend Mustafa, canceling his plans to join Mustafa in Sacramento, California. The narrator and Mustafa grew up together in the Shajiya quarter of Gaza and promised to follow the same path. The narrator takes care of his mother, his brother's widow and her four children. After Mustafa moves to Sacramento, the narrator receives a contract with the Ministry of Education in Kuwait. When Gaza is bombed, the narrator plans to expedite his journey to Sacramento, but first he visits his family. At his sister-in-law's request, he visits Nadia in the hospital and learns of her amputation. The narrator decides against moving to Sacramento and begs Mustafa to come home and learn what life is about.

Mustafaappears in Letter from Gaza

Mustafa is the recipient of the letter. He grew up in the Shajiya quarter of Gaza with the narrator, and the pair promised to follow the same path. While Mustafa worked for the Ministry of Education in Kuwait, he gave the narrator money to help support his family. Mustafa moves to Sacramento and waits for his friend to join him.

Nadiaappears in Letter from Gaza

Nadia is the narrator's niece. When Gaza is bombed, Nadia saves her younger brothers and sisters by throwing herself on top of them instead of saving herself. This results in an amputated leg. When her uncle visits her in the hospital and lies that he has bought her the red trousers she wanted, she cries and reveals her amputation. She is a symbol of hope in this collection of stories.

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