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“De Niro’s Game” was an engaging novel to read. Rawi Hage’s style of using blunt,quick sentences, as well as occasional poetic flourishes was able to successfully set the scenes of the story, as well as giving each character their unique identity.
Personally, I was not able to have a connection with the scenes or the characters as I never had any similar experiences, but Hage was certainly able to drag me into the story and the events that were taking place throughout the novel. I felt like Hage was aiming for a deeper comment about war-torn Beirut, as he captured the overall melancholy and despair of the place. Passages of reflection, contemplation and quiet suddenly broke into violence, and Hage conveys how war corrupts everything, even friendships. In addition, I felt that the novel also contributed to history and memory. I was mostly impacted by how Hage attacks God so directly that he makes the book a statement against all religions, and against the imposition of narrow standards of morality on society, not just in the Middle East, but around the world.
I believe that Hage’s daring move to challenge and question fighting for different religions by describing the physical and moral effects it has had on societies was very captivating and necessary to fully understand the circumstances and after effects of war. In De Niro’s Game, the main character, Bassam, is a young man struggling to survive the Lebanese Civil War. Bassam tells his life story from a passive view to the setting of Lebanon during the war. As the story progresses, it is evident that Bassam has been traumatized by the war, and suffers from certain bouts of silence and violence. Through a gendered lens, as well as a psychoanalytical lens, I will evaluate the use of masculinity as a social construction and its role in how Bassam conveys his trauma. As Bassam and his close friend, George, encounter life through the war, it becomes clear that Bassam is struggling to negotiate his identity. Bassam lives through the war with no social support from the people around him. This alienation from society leads to traumatic expressions in his relations to others.
In a state of violence, Bassam can only replicate the environment he is in. As he tries to create a sense of unity and existence, Bassam cannot formulate a projection of masculine ideals of brotherhood since none of the other characters exhibit hegemonic masculinity. Since Bassam cannot find the support system required to function, as a victim of war, his traumatic symptoms are translated into silence. Even though George sinks deeper and deeper into the false consciousness of war and power, Bassam withdraws himself from war and the society which he is in.
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