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Salt Houses


From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family...
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Discuss Salt Houses by Hala Alyan:
In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill the two interpretations of her mother's vision?

Created: 05/25/18

Replies: 4

Posted May. 25, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1584

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In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill the two interpretations of her mother's vision?

The novel begins with a cup reading--and a lie by omission. Salma sees dark omens in her daughter's coffee cup on Alia's wedding day but chooses not to reveal them. She sees crossed knives, crumbling houses, and the image of a zebra: "A zebra is an exterior life, an unsettled life" (page 9). But Salma later questions what she saw in the cup: "Not a zebra, but a horse with smudges, a speckled horse. It means travel, perhaps, even a difficult first pregnancy, but luck; it also means luck" (page 23). In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill these two interpretations of her mother's vision?


Posted Jun. 06, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolf

Join Date: 07/10/14

Posts: 27

RE: In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill the two interpretations of her mother's vision?

Some of the true things Salma sees in the tea leaves is that "houses will be lost, a journey and an unsettled life". These things all come true due to the continual relocation of Alia and Atef. But the unsettled life is not entirely due to the moving but also due to the fact that Alia does not want to live where she is forced to live and therefore she is feels unsettled and unhappy. The altered version of the tea leaves suggest travel but also luck. The words travel and journey really mean the same thing but conjure up different scenarios I think. A journey sounds arduous but travel sounds planned and leisurely. And Salma says "luck - it also means luck" and I think this also came true as Alia has three healthy children, grandchildren and a marriage that lasts so despite everything she is lucky.


Posted Jun. 07, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 229

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RE: In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill the two interpretations of her mother's vision?

Carol said it well. Salma's interpretation of lost houses, and an unsettled life, was fulfilled. And some of the unsettledness,I agree with Carol, was because she couldn't choose where to live, it was decided for her. I'd add, Alia had a lot of energy that she couldn't draw upon as a woman confined to the home. But Alia was also lucky, having solid family relationships, a loving husband, even if they were not able to be closer as they both would have liked. She lost Mustafa, but not her children nor her grandchildren. She had homes, good places to live, even if she had to be uprooted so often and unjustly. The "journey" is the ambiguous part of the prophecy. Alia had a journey in the sense of a reasonably long life with many changes in it, but she did not have the "hero's journey" of learning something important, overcoming something she needed to face up to, within herself.


Posted Jun. 10, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 311

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RE: In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill the two interpretations of her mother's vision?

It appears that many of Salma's readings were accurate, even those she selected to change. Alia's whole life was a journey. She faced many upheavals and changes, particularly those pertaining to homes. A great deal of her "crossed knives" dealt with her explosive personality. She lived her whole life with a man who kept a great secret from her. Her mother was right in worrying that this marriage might not be right. I believe Alia was very much aware of this secret, in that her outburst why often brought about by Atif's refusal to have a response , any response to life.


Posted Jun. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianaps

Join Date: 05/29/15

Posts: 256

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RE: In what ways do you think Alia's life--including her emotional life and relationships--fulfill the two interpretations of her mother's vision?

Not much I can add to the previous posts


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