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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:
How do Salma, Widad, Riham and Manar differ, in your opinion--and how are those differences reflected in the way other characters react to each of them?

Created: 05/25/18

Replies: 3

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1626

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How do Salma, Widad, Riham and Manar differ, in your opinion--and how are those differences reflected in the way other characters react to each of them?

Parallels can be found between Salma, Widad, Riham, and Manar. All four women are described as heavyset, quiet, bookish, and devout. How do they differ, in your opinion--and how are those differences reflected in the way other characters react to each of them?


Posted Jun. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

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RE: How do Salma, Widad, Riham and Manar differ, in your opinion--and how are those differences reflected in the way other characters react to each of them?

Starting with Riham, I would say she came into her personality as an escape from the wildness of Souad. The fighting between Souad and Alia led Riham to seek a place of quiet through her books and her devotion. She stayed behind her veil almost as protection. Her calmness led the children to seek her out, especially during times of upheaval during the war, or even disagreement between family members.
Manar seemed to seek her peacefulness by moving away from the family and finding a life away from the war and the upheavals. She was still trying to find herself, and at the same time find her family roots. This was important to her, thus her trip to the "homeland". Her youth and confusion about life shows in her behavior on the beach, where she is so unsure of what she wants to do, even though she is carrying a new life.
Salma appears to be a wise woman, looked up to by her family and neighbors. She is the glue that continues to hold this family together.


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

Join Date: 05/29/15

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RE: How do Salma, Widad, Riham and Manar differ, in your opinion--and how are those differences reflected in the way other characters react to each of them?

Reene says it all so well.


Posted Jun. 14, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 59

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RE: How do Salma, Widad, Riham and Manar differ, in your opinion--and how are those differences reflected in the way other characters react to each of them?

There is some belief that a child's growing up years shape their personality and I think these women might be good examples of this.

Salma is calm, steady, loving, and provides a safe home for her children even moving to someplace safe, out of her homeland, when her house is taken over by soldiers. We know nothing about her childhood or early adult life except that she and her husband had an orange grove farm.

Widad has coped with the disruption of her environment by turning inward - she has retreated to her own inner calm, devotion, and shields herself from life with her veils and dress, and by moving to safety with an older, calm, more established husband.

Alia has mostly been raised in a comfortable, steady, wealthy environment in Jordan. She has the luxury of being wilder than her siblings - she disregards religion, is outspoken in a male dominated society, and is somewhat volatile in her interactions.

Riham grew up in Qatar, her conception was perhaps violent as it was after Atef had come home from the 6 day war and Alia and Atef's lovemaking was described as being less spiritual than physical. Her home life was somewhat volatile as well as her mother was very passionate. She, like Widad, turns to stability, calm, certainty, religion, and an older, more established husband.

Manar has grown up mostly in America. Her environment was comfortable although her parent's marriage imploded. She, like Alia, has the luxury of being her own person but her rebellion is different than Alia's or even Souad's. She has an affair with a married man, becomes pregnant, and then travels alone to visit Palestine.

I think these women's personalities and life choices have perhaps evolved based on their young environments.


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