Internment Thematic Essay Example
“Stand for what is right. Even if it means standing alone.”(Suzy Kassem) Every day, all over the world, people are put into difficult situations that require them to stand up for what is right and advocate for their beliefs. Today, oppressed groups are facing similar challenges to the ones portrayed in Ahmed’s novel Internment. Ahmed uses syntax, imagery, diction and symbolism to emphasize the importance of standing up for your rights and beliefs even when faced with conflicts and difficult obstacles.
Since no one else seems to be actively protesting their release, Layla is put under pressure to do what she feels is right. While Layla is trying to convince the director to let everyone out of the camps, he tells her, “That electric fence? That barbed wire? These men with guns? They’re here to keep you inside. To protect America from you. You are the enemies of the state to the strongest country in the world” (Ahmed 361). The director is a symbol of hatred and fear of others who are different.
He made the decision to confine all the Muslims to internment camps simply because they had a different religion and practice different traditions than himself and others in the country. He feared that since they were different they must be harmful to society; therefore he had strong feelings of hatred and fear towards those individuals. Ahmed used this resource of language to make what the director symbolized more universal and clearly understood by the audience.
David thinks that he has an opportunity to get Layla and her family out of the camp safely, but it would require her to turn on her fellow Muslims and go against what she believes in. Layla makes it clear that she is unwilling to go along with David’s plan when she yells at him saying, “David, have you lost your mind? You’re the one person I have. The one person I trust on the outside, and now you want to make my parents--what--collaborators? You want us to inform on other Muslims to save ourselves? They would never do that, and neither would I” (Ahmed 155).
Diction is clearly illustrated because of the repeating of the words, one person and her asking multiple rhetorical questions. The use of diction along with the powerful word choices Ahmed uses to describe Layla’s feelings and the situation, enhance the theme of standing up for what you believe is right. Layla is unwilling to sacrifice others freedom and safety even if it means giving up her own because she knows it is morally wrong. Ahmed’s use of diction helps the reader understand the significance of the situation and goes straight to the point.
Layla begins to understand what is truly holding her back from being able to confidently stand up for herself and others. Layla is describing her views on the director and the situation that she was put in, when she realizes, “And that’s the small opening. The only one I may have. At their core, bullies are cowards. He is what he always was. He can still hurt me. Kill me, even. But he will never win. Remember who the enemy is. I’ve been fighting with myself. My fear. My failures.
That’s the wrong fight. The fight is in front of me” (Ahmed 319-320). Ahmed uses syntax because of the very short length sentences and powerful word choice. Ahmed chose syntax to convey the character’s strong emotions and to emphasize how difficult her internal conflict is. Layla learns that her biggest problem is doing what is morally and ethically right when everything is against her and there seems to be no way out.
Layla is able to relate the short passage on Jake’s compass to her being the only person in the camp who is willing to stand up for what she knows is right. Jake is telling Layla what is inscribed on the compass his mother gave him on their very last hike together, “A compass doesn’t tell you where you are, and it doesn’t tell you where you have to go. It can only point you in a direction. It’s up to you to always find your true north” (Ahmed 287).
The compass symbolizes your inner core values and morals; and that following those will always point you in the right direction. Layla knew her “true north” was to be mature and stand up for those who were afraid to use their voice; and that if she followed her morals and values that they would never lead her astray. Ahmed used symbolism rather than another resource of language, to make the compass allude to a greater meaning and have a deeper impact on the reader.
Layla is put into a hard situation when she has to choose if she should do what is conveniant for her family and herself or what she knows is morally correct. The director is trying to get Layla to confess who wrote what was put on the blog posts that were released, when she states, “I clench my clammy hands into fists to keep them from shaking, but I focus my mind’s eye on the Occupy encampment, their shouts and signs and raised fists. I hear Suraya’s voice in my head: “We’re with you.”
And something like confidence grows inside of me” (Ahmed 271). Ahmed uses imagery to paint a vivid picture for the reader and also conveys emotion by describing the voice in her head, clammy fists, confidence growing inside her, shouts and protest signs It is easy to visualize what is going on in Layla’s head and what she has experienced. Layla beings to feel more confident and knows that what she is trying to accomplish is possible if she continues to work hard for it and stand up for what is right.
In Ahmed’s novel Internment, he shows how vital it is to stand up for your beliefs and rights when you are faced with difficult obstacles and conflicts. Through Layla’s brave choices and faith that she could make a difference, the reader learns that taking a stand is always worthwhile. Having the courage to stand up for what is morally and ethically right when faced with hardship is still necessary in today’s world.