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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:
Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Created: 05/25/18

Replies: 15

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1559

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Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?


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

Join Date: 05/02/12

Posts: 9

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I think what she meant is that nostalgia is a form of looking backwards, a longing for what you have lost and can't get back. As such, it is always a form of suffering. I think of all the characters in SALT HOUSE, Alia and Manar suffer the most from nostalgia. Manar is nostalgic for the Palestine she never knew, except through Atef's letters. Atef is too terrified of his past to look back, and so he protects himself from nostalgia except in his letters, where he allows his emotions to come through.

As a chronic sufferer of nostalgia, I must agree. As Thomas Mann said, "you can't go home again." So why do I keep trying?


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

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 29

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Nostalgia is an affliction even when the early times moved gently forward, but the family in Salt House was repeatedly jerked forward to a new life, moved by war. The past was not necessarily always better, but the changes were always forced which creates a particularly bittersweet nostalgia.


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

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 311

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RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

An affliction is something that causes pain and suffering, a handicap. Nostalgia is looking back on the past, usually with happy memories. Alia sees nostalgia as an affliction because she chose to look back on the sad memories. Constantly recalling the difficult times would make it an affliction for her. Atia, suffered more from PTSD, wishing he could forget the past. His memories afflict him in his dreams. He attempts to contain them through his writing. For Alia it is definitely an affliction. For me, I would never want to give up my good memories, but there are things I wish I could forget.


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

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 29

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Nostalgia is more than memories. It is memories with a longing for return to that time. It is in this way an affliction when there no way to return to lost people or lost places.


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

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 169

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RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

It's like someone reminiscing about the "good old days". In retrospect they seem better because one filters out the bad and dwells on the good. Alia seemed obsessed about her past and trying to recover it with her family gatherings in the summer months. It became a form of escape for her— somewhat of an affliction!


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

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 165

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RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

if you are wrapped up in nostalgic memories all the time, you are unable to go forward with the realities of life. But I think nostalgia is healthy in the right doses at the right time. Our history gives us strength. Too many people get wrapped up in sadness for what their lives used to be. In doing so, they might be throwing away many chances at new adventures and possibilities. As humans we all need repotting every now and then to be able to continue to flourish.


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

Join Date: 11/29/17

Posts: 5

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I think it is an affliction for her as she can’t move on to accept her new life. I was struck by how easily they moved to new locations. There seemed to be no money issues. When you look at the number of people displaced and living in tents or shacks they seemed very fortunate!


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

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 311

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RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I agree with brendaw. I was also struck by how quickly they were able to move and the fact that there always was a home. So many refugees are living in the streets. Money seemed no objects. Very soon after moving, they were decorating. I found these inconsistencies difficult to follow.


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

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 29

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Remembrance of the past is either better or worse than the event/time really was. Part of it is better - the good old days - because you know how it turned out. The bad part is when one "resents" or feels again, the hurt or trauma. I think Alia knows both these attributes of nostalgia. She feels nostalgia is an affliction because it can make one forget what one currently has and the memories may be either good or bad. In speaking of her struggle with Alzheimer's, it seems Alia's memories sadly are mostly bad and about the soldiers coming. How ironic that her nostalgia turns out to be an affliction.


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: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Alia recognizes that her longing for the past -- which is not just for a sense of belonging, missing Nablus, or later Kuwait, but also for Mustafa, and her childhood innocence -- is what keeps her (and Atef) "stuck" emotionally, unable to truly embrace life, just coping, going through the motions while always feeling something is missing. It's an affliction because it is chronic -- not just an occasional wistful stroll down memory lane, but a sense of pervasive loss she lives with every day. (Until she does lose her memory, a sad irony and maybe meant as a symbol of how precious even bad memories are to one's sense of identity.)


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

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 179

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RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I agree that nostalgia can be an affliction. It can result in being stuck in the past and not moving on. One must learn to hang on to the memories of the past while moving forward and taking those memories with you.


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: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Alia is stuck in the past. She can't move forward, so it is an affliction - affecting all that she does. She needs to be open to new experiences and remember good memories - not dwell on the sadness of the past.


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: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Alia let her past cling to her and kept her from seeing things in a more positive way.


Posted Jun. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
BarbaraLynn

Join Date: 06/16/18

Posts: 2

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Nostalgia is not just looking backwards fondly, but also implies a longing--a wish to return to the "good old days." Memories and a fondness for the past are not necessarily bad, but in this quote I think Alia is suggesting that wishing to return to a past that no longer exists can prevent you from succeeding in your current situation. The families in this book were forced to resettle, to recreate their lives due to circumstances beyond their control. Their success is due, in part, to their ability to seek new opportunities and adapt rather than wishing and waiting to return to what was before. As another literary sage once said, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."


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

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 35

RE: Alia thinks to herself that "nostalgia is an affliction." What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree or disagree, and why?

I think she felt that nostalgia for a physical home at least inhibited the ability to make a new one with those she loved. It also was painful for her and so better to suppress than suffer.


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