Family Life

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:
Family Life

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This chapter presents a Palestinian folktale focusing on a hostile brother/sister relationship. A girl's honor is her most precious possession, and the only way she can ruin her family is by sexual transgression. Only one socially acceptable reason exists for killing a sister, and that is to regain the family honor by removing the shame of such a transgression. While such situations have always been rare, when they do occur, this ultimate form of punishment is sanctioned by society. In the story, the family accepts the shame and is destroyed, but the brother gains everything in the end—his lions as well as the caravan. Nevertheless, the blood bond between brother and sister proves in the long run powerful and indestructible, and finally outweighs the hostility. Even though he has killed her, she is still his sister, and she does not wish to see strangers take something from him.

Keywords: Palestinian folktale; brothers; sisters; ghoulishness; sexual transgression; family honor

Chapter.  8636 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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