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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:
Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

Created: 05/25/18

Replies: 12

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1626

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Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

Salma's garden in Nablus (i.e., Palestine) is described throughout the novel as various characters enjoy, remember, or mourn for it. Does the garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?


Posted Jun. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
naomib

Join Date: 05/02/12

Posts: 9

RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

To me, Salma's garden represents all that is nurture and love, her symbolic and literal roots to the soil of her homeland. If you decided to stay in a place, you often use the expression "to plant roots." Sadly, as a refugee, her family also learns the converse: the uprooting of home and garden.


Posted Jun. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 179

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

The garden represented a place of refuge and beauty in a harsh world. It was a memory of the homeland and a good time in their lives. It represented "home," in the sense that home was a place of love and contentment, and a place the family shared.


Posted Jun. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
wandak

Join Date: 04/11/18

Posts: 10

RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

The garden was a place of solace. A place to represent the good and familiar of her homeland.


Posted Jun. 05, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 59

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

Certainly it is a reminder of Salma's homeland and the care she would have given it. I think it also represents the only real control she had of her life. Her children are scattered, her husband died of cancer, her home and homeland was taken away from her. The garden brings order, organization, control, unexpected surprises, and memories of another time.


Posted Jun. 06, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 259

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

I thought Naomi, Wanda, Marcia and scgirl expressed very well what I was thinking from the beginning -- there were so many hints that this garden was very special and would not last. I agree that to Salma it represented her sense of her own control over her life-- we learn how she totally replanted what had been a paved courtyard when she first moved in. Along with that control, her creativity, too. It was filled with memories of her husband, and her children when they were young, her family life. It represented her love for her homeland, peace, a sense of solace and security in a world around her changing in troubling ways. All that would be lost to her -- her own rootedness in the world, and a presage and symbol of what all of the characters would be missing as the story unfolds.


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

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 124

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

The garden was a place of peace, the gratification of seeing things grow and she could get lost in her thoughts of issues at large.


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

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 312

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

A garden is a place of peace, a connection to nature and the earth. The garden in Salt Houses symbolized the homeland. It was where the family came together, holding the memories of her husband and her children. It also symbolized all that Salma had lost and what her grandchildren will never know.


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

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 97

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

I think the garden symbolizes family, how it needs to be nurtured and worked on daily. How the plants are individual like her family members are. Salma's peace in the garden is because she is surrounded by the ones she loves.


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

Join Date: 05/29/15

Posts: 277

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

The garden was their sanctuary.


Posted Jun. 23, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
audrey1

Join Date: 09/02/13

Posts: 29

RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

Salma's garden and house represented the roots of this family. Jaffa is seen as a very distant memory and so does not contain the same power over the minds and feelings of the characters. The loss of the home in Nablus and the fact that this was the scene of Atef and Mustava being dragged away as POWs causes a break that cannot be mended. I think Atef made this harder by not sharing what happened during the invasions by the Israelis. Only he know how this place was shattered and destroyed as a foundation of the family and their story. He denied that solace to the others who never knew what actually happened to Mustava.

Personally I still have dreams of the two homes I grew up in with my family. It is kind of anchor for me and who I am. I think only the home in Nablus provided that comfort.


Posted Jun. 30, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cassandrae

Join Date: 03/11/16

Posts: 3

RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

Salma's garden kept her rooted no matter what. I thought it was interesting that at the end of the book that Atef was pulling flowers out of the most recent garden, which to me symbolized the end of the family as a group and that the flowers needed to go.


Posted Jul. 19, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 59

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RE: Does Salma's garden function as a symbol of something larger in this book? What does it represent to you?

Reading back over the posts for this question I love that we had so many ideas about the garden. I started to think about religion as well and wonder if Salma replaced her religion with the beauty, splendor, and serenity of her garden. We are never clear in the book if Salma is religious and, presumably, not very. Perhaps the beauty and surety of a garden are replacements for a deity who is, for her, at best loving and, at worst, mercurial. While one can certainly never predict nature - it has more of a certainty than fate.


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