This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: Beneath a Sky of Porphyry Throughout this book we see a fictional piece of work described as a real event: the War of Liberation in Algeria. This book takes place between the years of 1954 and 1974. The independence war was based on the fact that the Algerians wanted to free themselves of the French rule that had been coming down on them for so many years. The natives were sick and tired of being treated like the lands of Algeria were not their own. The characters in this book are meant to show what really went on during this time and the injustice that the Arabs went through during that time period to get to the independence and freedom that they have today. It gives the story of everyday villagers so that we can get a glimpse into the world that they were living. The main character, Ali, and the other characters of the Brothers organization that they were involved in are the ones that we get to know and the ones that make us more aware of the thousands of people who died during this time period so that future generations could have freedom. Ali is the one that we get to know best and probably the one that shows us the most throughout the book. His diary shows us exactly what he went through. We see him grow up from this innocent boy who knew nothing of racism to a man with a cause, wanting only what was best for his country. When he was younger he was thirsty for knowledge, always seeking to go onto further education. His childhood takes place in Dachra, Algeria where he grew up with both of his parents. He got his first taste of Arab racism when he was not allowed to take the entrance exam along with the rest of his classmates and his best friend Alain. He ended up having to repeat the year of school he had just taken and was not able to move onto high school. From there on his father explained to him what was going on and what people really thought of them and their culture. From an early age we see him understand most things young children could not grasp at their young innocent age. By reading his diary we get a strong sense of what he was going through during these times. "There is always a moment in our childhood when the door opens and lets in the future..." states Graham Greene (pg.51). But this is the exact opposite for Ali and the rest of the Arabic children of that time and that is exactly what his father was trying to teach him. He didn't have the rest of the opportunities that the kids in his class would have and he would have to work extra hard to achieve success. But no matter what was going on, what war was happening, Ali's father wanted him to focus on his studies and get a good education. He knew what was going to be valuable to him in the future. When Ali goes into college, is when we see him start to feel the most comfortable he probably has been in his whole life. He developed friendships that he never thought were possible and he for once thought that he might have a bright future ahead for himself. But when his father and mother died it changed everything. From there he really began to want justice out of the harsh world he was living in. "For two and a half years I cheated by working for a diploma that doesn't interest me. And now that my mother is dead, I have my answer. Tomorrow I am leaving the village. I am filled with a curious feeling of euphoria; I know where I am going, but how am I to find the way there? I am going in search of freedom and to defend a certain idea of honour...From that moment, I had only one aim, to devote my life to a worthwhile struggle." (pg. 105) When his mother died, he knew what he had to do. He wanted to fight for justice and fight for what he thought was right. He wasn't sure at first how he would accomplish what he felt that he needed to do in his heart, but he knew that he would one day get there. When he first joined with the Brothers, all he wanted to do was take part in some action. He was eager to express the anger that he felt against the enemy for his fathers death, and wanted to feel like he was apart of the movement. Most of the men thought he was too young and inexperienced to take in any serious mission that they had, but one man, Tahar, believed in him. Tahar saw something in him that the other men did not. When he went on his first mission and he did not know what was to come of it. He felt frightened but at the same time exhilarated at the fact that he was finally feeling like he was doing something right with his life and he was contributing to the cause. As the night went on he finally realized that Tahar could turn into this violent harsh man and that they were about to kill this man and women to benefit the cause. Still being so young and really still innocent he froze, he did not know what to do. He realized very quickly that this war was not one where people died quickly, but rather the people they killed felt the pain that they had caused thousands of other innocent people when they died. Ali still being so innocent could not stand to see this woman killed like that no matter what she had done to his people. He quickly killed her with a gun and from there on out we see a changed man in Ali. He changes from an innocent vulnerable boy who knew that he wanted justice to this hardened man who learned to control himself when killing his victims, and a man who had powerful courage in the face of fear. Also throughout the rest of the book we see Ali become an important man to the cause. He goes on to become a man that he never thought he would be. He goes on to do more serious missions and gradually does it on his own. With his experience of electricity he is asked to sabotage several trains, but with every mission he still has a sense of that young innocent boy he once was. He feels horrible nausea but slowly overtime gains self-control. This self-control helps him to complete missions that he feels will help the cause and ultimately help better future generations. Through Ali we see what a young man of that time would have been going through. As a native of Algeria he felt a strong pull towards the war. When the author mentions in the introductory note that "I have simply tried to throw out some bridges...so that others may cross them and build new ones, in tolerance, respect, and friendship. I sincerely pray that a meeting may take place somewhere half-way". Through Ali, the author is able to make us aware of what was going on during that time period. The racism and the injustice that was taking place needed to come to an end. Even though this book is fictional her characters are able to vividly depict what would have happened if we were right there with them. Ali isn't the only character that makes us aware and shows us what was really happening during that time period. Tahar, the man that trusted Ali from the moment that he meet him, also shows us what he had to go through to better his country. When Ali meets him and the other men he notices at once the ease and casualness at which Tahar speaks. He immediately looks up to Tahar, and feels privileged when he gets to go on a mission with him. But we also get to see another side of Tahar. We find out that he likes to act out the cause physically. He likes to take actions and actually punish those who have punished his people. He likes to physically wipe out the powerful people of the time that are causing harm. From seeing this side of Tahar we see that everyone has different ways of dealing with the war and everyone thinks there is a better way to change the state of the country. But we see Ali look up to him, admires how he handles situations and knows how to go with the flow and can deal with anything that comes his way on missions. Ali finds it peculiar how Tahar can be so ruthless one night and the next morning go back to being the casual, funny, strong man that he normally is. Tahar was always the understanding one towards Ali but also was the one to put him in his place if he ever wondered too far. He knew the struggle at hand and he knew that every single person part of the struggle was important. If one person failed at their mission, or if one person was caught, it could bring down the whole struggle. Men respected Tahar for respecting what had to be done and doing it, even if it was in his own way by killing people. Even in the end, Tahar is confident in his ways. The last we see of Tahar is at a camp with the rest of his army. He was so confident that he needn't worry about displaying the Algerian flag that he freely talked about how the war was over. Very soon after saying this and after his sister leaving him, they were attacked. Even when Tahar is the last man standing, he still confidently shoots at the remaining attack planes, and goes down laughing as he dies. His wish was to go down fighting and not to go down like a coward, which is exactly what he did. He gave his life for freedom and that is exactly what he wanted. Even though Tahar did not get to see the end to his long fought struggle, he knew that the end was near. He was happy that future children would be able to freely play in the streets and that they would no longer have to worry about racism against their people and their culture. Another important character in this book is Monsieur Kimper. When meeting Monsieur Kimper he has an air about him that is different than any of the other men. He was a music teacher that loved music and could have chosen a quiet life filled with music for himself. But, instead of choosing the quiet life he decided to fight for justice and what was right. He was a respected man in the community and this wasn't even his war to fight, yet he did it anyway. He wanted to see fairness and he wanted men to be able to be free in their own country. Monsieur Kimper was more like a father figure to the men. His wife had previously died and he never had any children so he looked at these men like they were his own. Monsieur Kimper does not judge others on their race and for a long time has not only been fighting this war but every injustice that has been going on around him. All of the men respected him and knew that he gave a lot for the cause. At one point in the book Ali asks Tahar how Monsieur Kimper is never questioned for having so many Arabs and foreigners in his home. Tahar explained that the authorities thought of him as an old, lonely charitable man. They thought this was just the kind of man he was, to lend his home out to anyone that was in need of it, but in the past few years the police had suspected him. But he also explained that many feared Monsieur Kimper because of his many contacts. Being such a generous man, he had many friends in many different places. Ali at first couldn't understand why a man would risk so much for a cause that was not his own. He didn't understand that some men didn't see men by their race, and believed that all men were created equal. Monsieur Kimper did not care that this was not his own struggle that he was fighting for, all he wanted was for things to be right, and he knew in his heart that it would not be right until the war was over and there was no injustice to be seen. Through Monsieur Kimper we see the more realistic side of the cause. We see a man that knows he does not have to do this, but is willing to risk everything for justice. Ali and the other men all have one thing in common: they want justice. They want this war to end, want to better their country, and want future generations to not be involved in any type of war or racism against their people. They don't want the children of the future generations to feel the danger and fear that these men felt everyday. Ali describes each of the men best on page 86 "He glimpsed a new horizon full of promise...He realized that everyone involved in the struggle was already training for the future, according to their vocation. Tahar, in his present existence, had chosen to kill, so that he could contribute, as he said, to the purification of the society of tomorrow... Si Salah will perhaps fight for the elimination of illiteracy among our children; Mounir is confident of wresting a place for himself, by tooth and claw, like the ambitious Young Turk he is; Monsieur Kimper is helping to attack injustice by proclaiming all peoples' sacred right to independence; if poor Ramdane survived this war he would bring a brain damaged and clouded by torture...but he would find his reincarnation in the dignity of the children of a country finally emerging from shame. If Fella's dream was realized, she would make her debut on stage as a woman with a thousand faces, immortal, full of love for her country and for all those who fight for the ideal of liberty...And Ali himself? What would he contribute? `Tomorrow? Shall I see tomorrow?' he wondered. `For the moment I am only a raw recruit who rejects doubt and believes only in victory!'" Each of these men contributed something completely different to the cause. By contributing something different, as a whole they became very strong. If one of these people were not there helping them, the end would not have happened. Each one of them knows what they are risking by being apart of the organization, but they know that this is the right thing to do. They each feel that justice is more important than their safety. They are willing to risk their lives so that hopefully future generations will never have to do so. By showing us what each of these men has contributed to the struggle and for justice, we see what the author means when she says she is trying "to throw out some bridges". She hopes that by writing this book it would have helped to make people aware of what was going on in this time. She is also hoping that no matter what happens in this world that this sort of war never happens again. People don't realize how many innocent people died for this cause of freedom and justice. Justice is something that always needs to prevail over everything else. Ali is the perfect example of how a young boy, who normally wouldn't have anything to do with this war, gets involved. It shows us how someone so innocent can grow up to realize the realities of the harsh world, and feels the need to get involved because it is his country. Throughout the book it often asks "Under what sky did these children grow to manhood?" Unfortunately for boys of this time they had to grow up dealing with racism and warfare. It involved everyone from the natives, to the politicians, to the rich. There wasn't one person that wasn't affected in someway by this war. People like Monsieur Kimper, who did not even have to get involved did, because in their hearts they knew it was the right thing to do. The author hopes with this book comes along tolerance, respect, and friendship. I think even today we can look at this book and relate it to the war that is going on. Unfortunately there is still racism and injustice going on throughout the world. Still today, thousands of innocent people are dying. It may not be for the same cause and struggle, but it is still happening today. Today sometimes we see that there isn't tolerance, friendship, and respect for people around the world. And through these characters we can get a sense of what really is going on behind closed doors. Just like Ali we all wish that we could go back to being the child that does not know of the harsh realities of the world, but sometime we all have to grow up. Even today I think that many people don't realize what is going on around the world. These men that we see in this book give up everything, sometimes even their life, so that future generations never have to do this. Today we have men overseas in Iraq giving up their lives to make the lives of other people better. Not only does the author make us aware of the sacrifices that the men involved give but also makes us aware of all of the thousands of innocent people who are not even involved that die because of war. I think the author does an astounding job at making us aware of this situation and showing through the characters what happens to ordinary men when a war concerning freedom and justice comes upon us. ...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course HIST 101 taught by Professor Rockefeller during the Fall '07 term at Loyola Maryland.
- Fall '07