Mar 13, 2020 in Literary analysis

Development of Drama in The Duped and Men in the Sun

In the film The Duped by Tawfik Saleh, several themes are highlighted that are similar to the ideas found in the book Men in the Sun by GhassanKanafani. The similarity is mainly because the film is based on the story given in the book. The major theme that is evident from the start of the books is the theme of struggling as the four main characters in the book are metaphorically depicted to be having the experiences fast by the Palestinian people. The similarities in the topics found in the film and the book are also because the stories that cause suffering among the characters are practical and the reader or viewer can easily identify with them. This paper looks at the comparison between the development of drama in the book and the film.

The theme of social realism is evident from both the book and the film and it is a significant factor in the development of drama. The Palestinian way of life is the primary source of drama in the book, and it is well portrayed in a realistic way especially because of the author of Men in the Sun, GhassanKanafani, is indeed from Palestine. Social realism is well brought out through the struggle faced by the four main characters. In the film, the characters try to do some smuggling in Kuwait and just like it is expected, when carrying out such a deal, people just want to undertake it with the people whom they highly trust. In the start of the storyline, the Iraqi deal was supposed to be carried out by three men, but they refuse to include Abdul-Khaizaran because he is from Palestine.

However, from the film, social realism in that scene is also evident as the refusal to include Abdul-Khaizaran in the deal could also be explained as being because he charged his services at a rate of ten dinars that was cheaper than his competitors who cost 15 dinars. The failure to choose Abdul causes drama as he cannot understand why his competitors were selected over him and at first he thought it was because of his country of origin. The theme of social realism, in that case, is set to cause drama in every situation even in the modern world where certain people tend to be favored over others in certain deals. Both the author of the book and the director of the film do so well to bring out the theme and use it as a basis for the development of drama in subsequent scenes and chapters. However, the four men later agree to travel with Abdul.

The theme of suffering is also evident later as the four men being smuggled into Kuwait have to be carried in water tanks past the border. The film focuses on this scene in its second part more than is highlighted in the book although there is a similarity in how the theme is expressed in both media. Marwan, Abu Qais, and As’ad are the three traveling passengers who have to be driven in the water tank by Abdul, who still has to drive the truck back to its owner after they get to Kuwait. There are exciting happenings as the trio are smuggled into Kuwait, and the dramatic scenes are mainly caused by the harsh conditions that they are forced to travel. They are sometimes forced to fully submerge themselves in the water tanks to avoid detection, and the submerging almost causes them to suffocate. If it’s not immersing themselves in the water, it is the scorching August sun that causes heat waves on them as they dramatically struggle to get some fresh air. The suffering of the traveling men moves the reader in the book but even moves one more when watching the film, and one cannot help but feel their struggle as they try to get past the hot desert. The essence of developing drama is to catch the reader’s or viewer’s attention and that is awesomely done in both the book and the film. The theme of suffering enables the story to have some dramatic scenes that play a vital role in the story’s plot development.

Other than the similarities in plot development between the movie and the book, there is also the aspect of rawness in the film that creates a better platform for the development of drama. The film was shot long ago before the high-definition camera and microphones were invented, and so the screening is very raw and thus making the development of drama even more real. Although the storyline is similar, the book does not bring out the dramatic scenes as they are shown in the movie. One needs to have a very imaginative mind for him/her to have the same photographic experience after reading the book as that which one gets from watching the movie. The footage shows Palestinian displacement from their land and the chaos that are found in refugee camps. The dramatic footage of Palestinian movement is not found in the novel, but it plays a significant role in the development of drama in the film. The plot development in the movie is thus also made more interesting by the way in which the film was shot and the additional stories that are mostly dramatic. For example, the inclusion of historical occurrences in the film added on some themes that have helped in the development of some dramatic scenes that make the movie’s storyline even more appealing to the viewers.

The idea of progress in life is also evident in both the book and the novel. At the start of the book and film, the reader or viewer is introduced to the three top characters who are intentionally set to be of different ages and hence signifying various stages in life. The author of the book Men in the Sun wanted to highlight the challenges faced by Palestinians of all ages progressed in life. The three main characters are portrayed as heroes through their exciting endeavors in search of a better life. Also, the main characters highlighted in both media come from different social backgrounds. The aspect of how they could handle the challenges that came their way was also fundamental in the development of drama in the story. The men came from different parts of Iraq but had a similar goal that relates to the theme of progress in life. Were it not for the dedication and ambition of the three most important characters, it would have been difficult to develop the story’s dramatic occurrences. The fourth main character, which allowed the travelers to use the bus, also builds on the theme as he also wanted the young men to get their prosperity by reaching their destination as he also earned income to enable his progress in life. The dedication of the main characters to make a decent living is thus also a focal point that ensures that the story has a dramatic flow while still captivating a person’s interest.

The fact that the three men were escaping their land due to joblessness and moving to a foreign place that they had never been before also developed on the story’s drama. The fact is evident in both the book and the film. Since they were moving into a foreign country, the men did not even have the necessary paperwork, which is the start of all their problems as they had to hide in very weird places. Their attempt to hide from the border officers is also chief in the creation of drama as no one would expect that people would undergo such torture just so that they can smuggle themselves in a foreign land with the hope of getting a better job and consequently a better life. Their hiding in the tank experience is very dramatic as at one point Abdul was delayed in signing the papers meaning that the three men had to wait longer in the tanks while still enduring the unbearable heat waves from the scorching sun. Unlike in the movie, the novel’s last chapter has a dramatic ending as the three men are profoundly affected by the heatwaves to the extent that they are not able to breathe or even get anything to cool them. They then suffer passive deaths that were unexpected considering how the flow of the story was. The deaths are also dramatic as most people do not expect the main characters in books or plays to die. Another dramatic turn in the book is that only Abdul, who was supposed to be their driver, survives the whole ordeal as he had been outside trying to get the border documents checked. The last chapter also ends in a dramatic twist as Abdul is having a monolog and asking himself why the three travelers did not just knock on the tanks and call for help. Of course, he did not expect them to do that as it would have caught the border officials’ attention who would have either arrested them or sent them directly to where they were fleeing.

The plot’s dramatic event are not only solely based on the events that occur real-time on the main characters, but some of it is also depicted in the form of flashbacks. Abu Qais at one time remembers a time when a teacher who used to teach his son refused to lead a group of people in prayers saying that he was not an Imam. The teacher, however, said that he would be very active in case the Israelis attacked, then he would be called in action. In the flashback, a touch of humor is used to create the drama as the headman argues with the teacher. The headman wanted the teacher to lead in prayers, as most teachers would do in a public place. The headman’s aim is to demean the tutor in front of his students and parents. However, the teacher is quick to reply that prayers were not his field of specialty but involvement in a war was. The teacher and the headman created a sort of a dramatic scene as people do not expect such respected members of the society to be arguing over such a minor subject. The drama that comes from the argument could be used by the author of the novel as a social commentary to show the changing traditions into a more modernized society. The aspect of modernization is also related to the case of the three travelers as they all wanted better living standards in Kuwait, which was then still more modernized as compared to Iraq. The dismissal of religion in the flashback is an essential dramatic event because it is not expected that people would prefer taking their children to less religious schools, especially in the Arab countries. However, the author of the book and the director of the film did well to use the religious factor as a deviation from the expected norm, which is the political scene. The variation stands out because the stories are set a time when most writers only focused on the political side of storytelling mainly due to the Palestine and Israel conflict. The writers thus did well to create their dramatic plot in the flashback while using a different approach than what the readers and viewers were used to or what they were expecting.

The symbolism used to describe certain endings in both stories also increases on the dramatic expectations of a viewer or reader. Some people think that the moral of the two stories is that it is better for one to thrive in his/her home country that seeking asylum or greener pastures in other nations. In the opening scene of the novel, Abu Qais is said to be sleeping on his back while meditating on his future when he sees a black bird that is circling in the sky. The black bird is known to cause bad omens according to most Arabic beliefs. A reader who noticed that at the beginning of the novel probably knew that something bad was bound to happen to Abu before the story ended. That was a sound basis for the development of suspense and drama in the following chapters of the novella. Symbolism is also used in the movie to create suspense especially in the dramatic scene where the three men are locked into a tank. Being trapped in a tank and the occurrence of unexpected circumstances like the delay in the processing of border documents could also signify being stuck in life. The drama increased suspense among the viewers as they wondered what fate awaited the three ambitious characters. The symbolism could be interpreted differently by different people, but it surely created some anticipation for some dramatic occurrences that were bound to happen.

The paradox of life is also used to develop drama in both the novel and the film. This is because of the more that the three men are shown as being on the verge of leading a better life, the more that they are close to their demise. The road they use is seen as a way to a better life while it is the road that leads them to the end of their lives and dreams. The desert could be seen as only a challenge that the travelers face before they cross the border, but it could also signify the suffering that man goes through daily in search of a better life. The paradoxes create drama and suspense as the viewer or reader tries to comprehend what the author of the story could have intended to mean by choosing the plot setting and environment. Each of the main characters is also faced by sad memories at some point of their journey which also prepares a person for a dramatic event that is yet to happen.

However, although the setting of the story in the book Men in the Sun and the novel The Dupes are very similar in how they develop their drama, the ending of the two stories is different, and it depicts the main characters in two different ways. The book ends the story dramatically by showing that the main characters could have done more to survive while in the film, the men are shown to be banging on the tank’s wall in a bid to get rescued. Nevertheless, the development of drama in the movie is undeniable and so is that in the novella that inspired the film. There is hence numerous comparisons in the dramatic events and circumstances that are in the two fine artworks.

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