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Critical Essay On Terrorist By John Updike (2006)

1750 words - 7 pages

Terrorist is a novel by John Updike written in 2006. Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy, the main character in the story, was instructed in the Muslim faith ever since he was a child of eleven by the Iman Shaikh Rashid, originally from Yemen. The words and teachings of the Qur’an and his devotion to Allah become the centre of Ahmad’s young life which incidentally, lacks all parental guidance. After he graduates from secondary school he gets a job as a truck driver for Excellency Furnishing Stores where he meets Charlie Chehab and his father, from Lebanon and devoted Muslims too. From then on, the young man is manipulated by his elders to perpetrate a terrorist attack against the Lincoln tunnel, below the Hudson River that unites New Jersey with Manhattan, New York. The attack never comes true because Ahmad’s respect and love of a God given life prevail above the Iman’s mandate of hatred towards Americans and their way of life which he had also tried to generate in the boy.
There is in the novel an ingredient which stands out namely, the animosity towards Americans, their lifestyle and their ill-fated meddling in Arab countries, experienced by the Iman and the other adults around Ahmad. It is they who are responsible for instilling in the boy the same kind of hostility. This negative sentiment is apparently the driving force for committing such a terrible deed as blowing up the tunnel with everybody inside.
The unavoidable question is then, what has generated this state of affairs between these two human groups. Throughout the text one can sense that both parts have reached an impasse where everybody feels terribly bad towards the other group and where they all want to find the way either to inflict pain to the opponent or to protect themselves from the other in the best way they can. In this frame, the sense of justice, the ability to decide what is really fair, will be utterly different depending on what side you find yourself.
In the book El terror como política exterior de Estados Unidos (2001) Noam Chomsky, the renowned Northamerican linguist, academic and political critic argues that “the world may appear completely different whether it is you who holds the whip or if it is you who has been whipped for hundred of years.” (10) At present and already for a few years, there seems to be an increasing malaise between Chomsky’s country of origin and the Arab world, malaise that has been made tangible in terrorist attacks aimed not only at the U.S.A. themselves but also at countries that belong to the so-called Western world.
Although Chomsky admits that terrorism is “…a scourge, a kind of cancer scattered by barbarians, by degenerate enemies of civilization itself.” (Chomsky 21) he also asserts that it is his own country the one that promotes terrorism and is leader in terrorist actions in the world. (cf. Chomsky 27)
Besides, Americans see temselves in such a way that they find it hard to believe they can be anything different from magnificent and altruistic...

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