Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back of the Throat

Back of the Throat was definitely the most "risque", if you will, drama that we have studied thus far. The use of profanity, extreme prejudice, and vulgar scenes/language really shock the reader. Although many think there is not a need for profanity in daily talk, film, or literature, I believe this pervasive language really emphasizes the message that the author Yussef El Guindi is trying to convey to the reader.
Yussef wants the audience to experience how ridiculous and out of line the racial prejudice and profiling of Muslim Americans after 9/11 was. The first half of the reading really doesn't make you feel that bad for Khaled, and the language and actions taken against him are not that out of line. Although they are still denying his right to a lawyer, they are not kicking him in the groin (testicles) as they did in the second half of the play. This latter half really exposes the reader to the twisted interrogator Carl. In the first half of the play, it seemed as if Carl was trying to hold Bartlett back, but as the play goes on, Carl says, "There is an imbalance of authority right now, and we need to correct that" (170). From this moment on, Carl becomes a forceful and ruthless interrogator.
Irony is a central motif in this drama. Bartlett and Carl both are complete hypocrites. Carl says, "You bitch and you moan and complain how overrun you are by us, and all the time you can't wait to get here. You'd kill for a visa. That pisses me off. That's hypocrisy. Why not just come clean and own up that you hate everything this country stands for?" (173). This quote is full of irony as Carl is telling Khaled he is a complete hypocrite, and throughout the entire conversation Khaled has been pleading for his rights because that is what he loves about America and what the country stands for. The investigators are too ignorant to realize this and their single-mindedness is really brought out.
By far the most ironic quote of the drama comes towards the end on page 181 when the investigators are leaving and Bartlett says, "And about those evaluation forms: they're no joke. It's your chance to respond. That's what this is all about. At the end of the day, we're fighting to safeguard that right. It sounds counterintuitive. But that's the struggle for freedom for you. It's never as straightforward as you'd like it to be". This comes right after Bartlett has ranted to Khaled about his options which basically all lead to him being guilty. The whole interrogation has involved Bartlett and Karl beating and choking Khaled, ripping down his shorts, taking his belongings, and denying him a lawyer, but they assert they are trying to "safeguard" his rights. Give me a break.
The play ends with a closing dialogue by Asfoor. After all of these terrible things have happened to Khaled, Asfoor speaks this long statement that is somewhat of a soliloquey but directed towards Khaled. I believe he is calling out to Khaled to join the Islamic extremist ranks. Asfoor has already been identified as a terrorist earlier in the drama, and his last few sentences can definitely be interpreted as a recruitment speech for Khaled. "You're stuck, I know you are. You've lost your way. I can feel it. I can help. Most of all...above else, Khaled...I know how to inspire..I know how to inspire". I think and underlying goal of Yussef El Guindi in writing this drama was to show why some Muslims can easily be drawn to the radical extremist ways. After horrible mistreatment by the U.S. government, why would Khaled stay loyal to the country. I would think he would want to do something about it. Ironically, the interrogation to see whether Khaled was a terrorist ultimately could have lead him to become one.

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