Representing a Traumatized Nation in Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun

Fatima Muhaidat, Lana Waleed, Shadi Neimneh, Raja’a Al-Khalili


This article investigates post-colonial trauma in Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun (1962), a novella portraying the harsh life and psychological pain of the Palestinians after losing their homeland. The article explores examples of traumatized characters and Kanafani’s techniques of conveying this trauma to the reader. Characters seem to be engulfed in a bleak atmosphere of trauma pervading every aspect of their lives. Symptoms of trauma including hopelessness, confusion, helplessness, anxiety, inability to forget the past, and loneliness show in characters’ behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Struggling with their unbearable despair, they become victims of a smuggler who is also traumatized and rendered impotent by war. The journey made to find a decent life only brings misery, humiliation, and death. Kanafani’s concern about the general public appears in a plot revolving around the needs and frustrations of people coming from a humble social background. Kanafani pinpoints the grave consequences of colonialism which put Palestinian people under nerve-racking conditions. His account may be seen as an attempt to draw attention to the suffering of his fellow citizens, and consequently gain support for their cause. Alternatively, Kanafani may be living in the same trauma his characters suffer from, and thus revisiting it in his fictional retelling of the story of his nation.



Post-colonial trauma; Men in the Sun; Ghassan Kanafani; Arabic literature

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