“In the Country of Men suggests that people cannot avoid brutality in a country under a dictatorship.”

Essay by Jono_CPHigh School, 12th gradeA-, July 2014

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English Practice Essay - "In the Country of Men suggests that people cannot avoid brutality in a country under a dictatorship."

In the Country of Men not just suggests but argues fervently, that Libyans living under a totalitarian regime will either have to rebel against or compel others to succumb to 'the Guide'. According to Hisham Matar, the predominant theme is one of guilt and how that can cause even an innocent Suleiman to cast his brutality upon the poor beggar Bahloul and his best friend and 'brother' Kareem. Alas, often the characters manifested by Matar are antagonistic due to the innate dictatorship which surrounds itself in 1979 within Tripoli, Libya. Matar portrays brutality as not just violence but sacrifice, as seen with Faraj prioritising his work over his family. Ultimately warning that political activism, execution, conflict and loyalty affects Libyans and actually strengthens the mandate of the deceptively labelled: Revolutionary Committee.

Through the use of innocent characters such as Kareem and Suleiman, it is evident that a ruthless dictatorship has the potential to break a friendship. Matar foreshadows this dilemma by highlighting that Suleiman sees Kareem not just as a friend but a brother; displaying a true sense of solidarity in a militaristic environment. Their collaborative innocence is portrayed often around Najwa's alcohol induced state, with Kareem affirming with total reassurance and conviction that "all women are ill" - a generalisation which concedes innocence. Women are extraordinarily suppressed throughout Matar's novel to the point that Najwa describes "[Suleiman we are] two halves of the same soul, two open pages of the same book" symbolic of the soul being foreign to the realism of a dictatorship. Moreover, the brutal realisation that a totalitarian regime is soulless illuminates when Suleiman betrays Kareem, amid a competitive game entitled 'My Land,