The book of Khalid represents the greatest works in Arab American literary. Ameen Rihani wrote it almost a century ago. Rihani takes us through the eyes of two characters who show the Arabic point of view of America. The book shows many instances involving the similarities and differences of culture associated with the Arabic and American culture. The writer uses two characters who travel from their home country to the United States to seek for greener pastures and thus obtain a better life. The setting is mostly in the American context where the book explores the lives of the two characters in the book who are Khalid and Shakib.
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The author uses the two characters to give us a sneak preview of the immigration process and their life after that. The characters in the book pass through various events in America that change their mindset and the way of life. As they interact with the American society, they can note the differences that occur. The author uses Khalid experience mostly as he interacts more with the society. We learn about the significant variation in the cultures of America and those of Arabs. The book of Khalid thus brings out various issues that affected the relationship between Arabs and the Americans regarding differences in religion, culture and the immigration problem associated with the Arabs in American history. The author thus uses the two authors to explain differences associate with the Arab culture and the American culture and hence helps come up with the first Arab American literature piece
Therefore, the book of Khalid brings the Arabic aspect in the American culture and states to bring out the various interactions that the first Arabs had within the United States thus forming a historical background on how to view their immigration and whether there was any assimilation or not. The author uses two people who are of different origins as Shakib defines himself as a Christian while the author shows Khalid as a Muslim particularly when he refers to the al-hadith. Therefore, though both are from different religions they share a room and live together peacefully. Thus in focusing on religion from Christianity to atheism, the author shows how the American society is degraded. We see other strange practices carried by a medium who practices sorcery and where eventually works as an assistant. Khalid demonstrates a lot of naivety and, therefore, shows the gullibility of the immigrants in acclimatizing with the new culture and thus the different ways of life.
As an important book in American literature, the book of Khalid tends to enlighten the readers on the life of the Arabs and their cultural shock as they reach the new land. The Arabs have a different culture from that of the United States where most women are greatly related to the lowest position in society. However, the American society proved challenging regarding accepting the culture and the different religion they sometimes had no choice but to plan to go back. The two individuals interact with the culture in the American context which largely changes their mindset since they are facing a different culture from theirs. Rihani takes us through the eyes of the two individuals and the differences that they encounter while in the United States. He uses the various characters to show how there can be unity between people from very different cultures and mostly stark differences in religion (Bulshrui 39).
From the religion point of view, we see the various tensions through the eyes of Khalid. Khalid reads “Monsieur Pascal” which drives him to read the Bible, and he develops a liking for the book of Jeremiah. As such, the author brings out the theme of religion in a different manner about the Muslim and Christian. The various radical points of view associated with both of the religions mostly prevent them from interacting peacefully. Most of the interaction between Muslims and Christians are usually hostile. In this case, Rihani shows that Muslims can still read the bible and appreciate it while at the same time remaining Muslims. Therefore, he tends to imply that religions can coexist peacefully. The book further shows the culture in America that has evolved to non-believing people, which ascribe to atheism.
They do not believe in God. As such the book touches the various aspects of religion and the two characters take us thoroughly through the various adventures of religion pursuit especially that of atheist. Shakib is soberer than Khalid showing tow people who approach issues differently is. He warns his friend not to attend the atheistic meeting that taints the name of God and disrespects their original land, the holy land. They are Christians who have lived in the Arabic culture, which is quite different from that of the US.
Khalid is one such character who has embraced the western thoughts and ideas and wants to educate his friend Shakib on adopting the same viewpoint in achieving unity. He read many volumes and eventually burns them once he finishes reading them. He gets many insights into philosophy and politics, which broadens his mind and thus his perceptions of the world. He thus has a different viewpoint that is different from that of Shakib. Shakib mostly deals with poems and songs and thereof does not venture into much reading of the books, which speak most of the American culture. Through the various instances happening in the book about the politics, we are given a sneak preview of that time and how the society was run.
The write in these cases uses the various characters to deal with different issues that are prevalent in Americans and the Arab world. One such consistently conflicting issue is religion. Khalid focuses on adopting the western idea of tolerance in religion and, therefore, providing the world that has a peaceful coexistence regardless of the religion of the respective people. In America, their religion is tolerated while in their country they are not to tolerate other religions apart from their own. Therefore, in the book we see the differences in how the Muslims view the world especially in the American context. Therefore, in his book he focusses on the various issues affects Muslims and what separates them from other societies especially with the West, particularly the United States.
The book further deals with American-Arab relations and the two characters substantially show the differences and the viewpoints of the American society towards Arabs. Therefore, as one reads, the book he can interact with the Arab side and the American side of society and Khalid and Shakib view the different features in America. For example, Khalid compares the statue of liberty with that of Eros and chooses the later as better than the former. The author takes through the immigration problems faced by the immigrants especially how they were frisked and the medical status checked. Some could not be allowed in the United States because of various complications like trachoma, which is linked to the eye. The immigration departments show the many nationalities who aspire to venture into the United States but most ultimately pass the checks in place to enter in the United States.
Therefore, the immigration one can determine the various countries and the respective people who want the United States and how the immigration system was working at the time. The history further goes to state and describe the living conditions of Khalid and thus show the sorry state of most emigrants though they have a chance of making a living selling fake holy land objects by exploiting the ignorance of their customers. As such, the author shows the various ways business is conducted and how the population, as a result, is deceived especially in buying goods from foreigners. As such, we learn from the various interactions that America has a modest business environment. The two immigrants have great difficulty in obtaining their daily bread since they are new in the society and have to sell their wares to obtain a living. The culture, therefore, shows that those who are strong survive.
The book further uses poems and song that we see in both characters. Khalid specializes in poems while Shakib does the singing with his lute. One of the poems in the book that is composed by Khalid is “I dreamed I was a donkey boy”. Rihani further uses sayings in his book that are related to the American society. One such saying is used to describe Khalid’s adventurous exploits in America. The saying used by Rihani is “Cart before the horse”. There are many other saying that are employed in the book especially those with an Arabic origin and from their homeland. They associate the various situations they face with the sayings as a result. Such use of language adds to the richness of literature frequently used in American literature and, therefore, merging the two different cultures to make the American Arab literature.
Therefore by reading the book the author takes us from the Arabic origins of the two characters from Baalbek in Lebanon to America through many channels that are affected by many difficulties. The author further brings us through the American culture in particular through the lives of the two immigrants and how they interact with the society. The various interactions mostly involve Khalid with Shakib giving a little contribution. As such, Khalid comes out as the main character and helps us learn the many differences existing between the Arabic and American culture. From the author we get to know the culture and how it treated Arabs a century ago when the writer wrote the book. Therefore, the book is one of the first literary genres of literature involving both Arabs and Americans (Amireh 827). It brings the differences in a way that can be appraised in Arab American culture. The book thus provides a platform for other writers to gauge their works especially those of an Arabic origin.
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