Chapter

Brides and Bridegrooms

Ibrahim Muhawi

in Speak, Bird, Speak Again

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 1989 | ISBN: 9780520062924
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908734 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520062924.003.0007
Brides and Bridegrooms

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This chapter presents a Palestinian folktale focusing on relationships among siblings. The competition between the brothers is acted out against a family background of polygyny and first-cousin marriage. This tale is one of the best loved and most popular in Palestine, perhaps because it dramatizes a situation which can occur in any family—that concerning an underdog younger (or smaller) brother. Here, however, a child who identifies with Half-a-Halfling would not feel too much guilt, for the siblings are only half brothers—they are not from the same womb and have not sucked from the same breast. The use of polygyny as a narrative idiom serves to palliate the effects of jealousy and hostility among the brothers. The tale, moreover, has all the elements of a hero fantasy, providing a good role model for children: the hero attains his goal by exercising the virtues of courage, truthfulness, and resourcefulness, and, in helping his brothers escape the ghouleh, he demonstrates generosity of spirit by rising above the pettiness of sibling rivalry.

Keywords: Palestinian folktale; siblings; sibling rivalry; polygyny; first-cousin marriage

Chapter.  12463 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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