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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:
Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

Created: 05/25/18

Replies: 9

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1584

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Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?


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

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 7

RE: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

The author does a good job of making all of her characters very three dimensional and interesting, but for me the one who really holds the story together is Atef. He starts out as an idealistic patriot for the Palestian cause who marries his best friend's sister, is in pursuit of an academic career and looks forward to starting a family and being a leader in his community. All of that changes when during the Six Day War with Israel he is captured, tortured and ultimately betrays his friend Mustafa. From that point on his life changes and he becomes the "peacemaker" in his family, is no longer an activist or much involved with religious life, and recognizes his debt to Mustafa by writing to him daily with news of the family, etc. He is a kind, gentle soul who captures the imagination and affection of the reader.


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

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 229

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RE: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

Atef certainly goes through enormous change. I was very interested in Souad, also. She went from being a rudderless rebel to a wife and mother, a student, a divorcee...from Kuwait to Paris to Boston back to the Middle East. She grows up and wises up without losing her passion, she finds a way to use her creativity to become a solid businesswoman and take charge of her life...and she makes peace with her own mother, which is to say, she makes peace with herself. She displays a great deal of resilience, though I don't sense she is ever entirely "at home" in her life.


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

Join Date: 04/20/17

Posts: 10

RE: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

I agree with Janeto that Alayna did a good job developing the characters. I find it difficult to name only one. I think that the development of Alia and Atef were the most interesting as the story revealed their lives from young adults to centurions and all of the changes and hardships they experienced during those 82 years. As noted by others, Atef’s changes were influenced by his involvement in activism, being a POW, and the death of his brother in-law. He became the quiet observer, yet contributed when needed. He continued to be interested in politics as shown by his and Abdullah’s discussions. Alia, on the other hand, seemed to be shaped more due to the several moves the family undertook and the leaving behind of people and things. It seems that she resented this and her treatment of her children and others reflected her disappointment and unhappiness. Even though Alia and Atef may have gone different routes at times, the epilogue made it abundantly clear that Atef and Alia continued to love and care for each other when they love on Alia’s 100th Birthday.


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: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

Hala Alyan did a wonderful job of developing her characters. It is hard to pick one that show the greatest development. For me, I would have to say Alia. We are part of her journey for one hundred years. We are there for her marriage, the birth of her children and grandchildren and how she deals with each one of them. She brings the story together for us. She is living through a war, is forced to give up her home, is often irritable and closed minded. She is a real character and grows throughout the novel.


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

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 97

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RE: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

For me it is Atef, the character that I least liked. I think that his development through the novel shows that he really was the least changed character. He started out narcissistic and in my opinion, stayed that way. Everything was what he wanted, how he could gain. In the end he could not even be truthful, so he sheltered himself with letters to absolve himself.


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

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 40

RE: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

I agree with Janeto also that the characters were richly dimensional. I also agree that Atef, while not necessarily my favorite character, showed the most growth during the book. If you did not look carefully at all his facets you might think he was a very unimportant character but his change and growth was forced by events, circumstances, and decisions.

On the flipside - I think Alia was the character who grew the least.


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: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

All the characters were well developed and interesting as well as the lives they led. The environment and political unrest in their country created hardships for all of them and I was awed by their perseverance. I can't say that one showed more change than any of the others.


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

Join Date: 09/02/13

Posts: 29

Atef

I agree that he was the most changed character. I think he was just that kind of person who finds it impossible to express his feelings or become involved in conflict. He was just who he was. I was married to a man like that and it made me mad I was always the one to stand up for myself, stand up for my husband and my kids. But on many levels, he relied on Alia to speak for both of them. The one thing I fault him on is his inability to discuss his letters with his wife or his children. Instead he allowed them, particularly Alia to process through her feelings of grief and loss about the disappearance of her brother.


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

Join Date: 09/02/13

Posts: 29

RE: Of the main characters--Alia, Atef, Souad, Riham, Manar, and Linah--which do you think shows the most interesting development throughout the novel?

I would say Souad. By the end of the book she had not only f ound a direction for her life, she had somehow found a way to connect with love and support for her mother. And no matter how much conflict she felt with others in her family, she gave her children the opportunity to have the experiences to be part of the larger extended family. The grandchildrem, Abdullah, Manar, Zian Linah had a connection that allowed them to find their own ways and still maintain the connection with the older generations of their family


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