“Every time a crime was committed by a Muslim, that person’s faith was mentioned, regardless of its relevance. When a crime is committed by a Christian, do they mention his religion? “(Eggers 37). Dave Egger states in his novel Zeitoun. Zeitoun is a nonfiction book written by Dave Eggers about the main character named Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his Muslim family that lives in New Orleans. During this time, Hurricane Katrina is about to run its course through New Orleans. Zeitoun decides to ride the hurricane out and tell his family to leave without him.
Throughout the rest of the book, the Zeitouns will face many struggles that they may or may not be able to overcome. Although he has good intentions, Zeitoun makes the wrong decision by staying in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina because he affected his family’s lives and he made almost no difference in the reconstruction of New Orleans. Although he had good intentions, Zeitoun made the wrong decision by staying in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina because he affected the lives of his family. Sadly, Zeitoun’s choice to stay back affected his children’s lives for the worse.
When Zeitoun insisted he would stay back and he says that Kathy should take the kids and go somewhere without him he did not realize how he hurt his children’s feelings. According to the book, Nademah states,”What happened to our house, mama? Where’s Daddy? ” (Eggers 119). Instead of feeling safe, the kids are worrying about how their house is holding up and if their dad is doing fine. They had no idea where Zeitoun was and if they would ever see him again. Plus, when Kathy and the children left they were aware that the house was not ready for the hurricane.
It is difficult to imagine how terrifying that would have been to leave Zeitoun in an unprepared house. Unfortunately, Zeitoun negatively affected his children’s lives even though he did it all in good intentions. Even worse than Zeitoun leaving a negative impact on his children’s lives, he also influenced Kathy’s long term health problems. After the book, Kathy was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder due to all the worrying about Zeitoun. The author states, “Kathy has lost her memory. Its shredded, unreliable.
The wiring in her mind has been snapped in vital places, she fears, and now the strangest things have been happening” (Eggers 293). Kathy spent all her days waiting for calls from Zeitoun, she had no idea she was slowly damaging her body. Kathy now has to deal with a disease that she never would be diagnosed with, had Zeitoun stayed with his family. What is she supposed to do now? She is barely able to work at the painting business because she has no memory of who called and when they made their appointment.
Due to this, Zeitoun staying back in New Orleans was not only dangerous for him but also to his caring wife. Equally traumatizing is that the situation made Kathy so stressed out when she could not get in touch with Zeitoun. From the minute Kathy woke up to the minute she went to sleep she would constantly be checking her phone and email because she was so anxious to find out where Zeitoun was. To quote the book, Kathy says, “She had to think of life insurance. She had to think about how she would support her four children. Would she be able to run the business on her own? ” (Eggers 187).
On top of being stressed out about where Zeitoun is, she also is starting to imagine what life would be like without him. This put so much more pressure on Kathy because now she will be forced to think negatively about Zeitoun’s condition because she does not know any better. Another consequence of Zeitoun being put into jail and not keeping in touch with Kathy is that he has thrown a lot of unneeded stress onto Kathy’s shoulders. Throughout the events that happen to Zeitoun, Eggers demonstrates how Zeitoun’s decision to stay home has a critical impact on his family’s lives.
Another reason Zeitoun made a poor decision by staying in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was that he made almost no difference in the reconstruction of New Orleans. Regrettably, Zeitoun did not prepare his own house, instead he chose to help the community by equipping their houses first. As Zeitoun is in the midst of the hurricane, he starts to strongly regret not being a bit more conscious of his surroundings because he now has no safe place to stay. Also when Kathy and Zeitoun go back to New Orleans after the hurricane to check on the house, Kathy can not stand looking at their demolished house.
The story states. “Without Zeitoun there to plug holes as they arose, the house had been devastated. He looked at the gaps in the roof and sighed. Kathy leaned against the wall in the hallway. She was overwhelmed. Everything they owned was filthy” (Eggers 297). Zeitoun took advantage of his time and did not listen to his wife who was more experienced with the horror of hurricanes. As bad as it sounds, he needs to stay back and help himself first before others because in conditions of a hurricane, the “every man for themselves” rule applies.
Unfortunately, it is heartbreaking that Zeitoun could have protected his house if he was a little bit more considerate of his time. In order to make a difference, Zeitoun also stayed back with intentions to save the dogs. Every morning Zeitoun would get up and search his freezer for food that Kathy left for him and give it to the dogs. “The dogs were just under the windowsill, a tangle of limbs, head to the heavens, as if they had been waiting, for weeks, for him” (Eggers 298). Everyday when Zeitoun would go and feed the dogs, he was actually prolonging their death.
He gave the dogs hope that they would survive instead of just taking them out of their misery. If he would have just let the dogs die like they already were then they would have been gone way sooner and would not have to go through the pain. Therefore, when the dogs actually ended up dying, Zeitoun’s task of staying back to save them was unsuccessful and unnecessary. Yet another reason Zeitoun made no difference the is because he was too worried about living up to his brothers accomplishments. Zeitoun believed if he stayed back in New Orlean and helped out the community than that would give his family a reason to remember him by.
According to the book, Zeitoun says, “Trying to hide his face- the very people who caged him might still be there – he followed Kathy through the doors” (Eggers 313). This shows that Zeitoun was definitely not happy with the impression he left on himself. He would have much rather lived up to his brother who was an extraordinary sailor and followed in the footsteps of their dad. Instead Zeitoun was a painter who ended up in jail for doing nothing. If Zeitoun would have just left with his family then he would not have to worry about his jail record and maybe his dad would think more of him.
This being said, Zeitoun was so caught up in living up to his brothers expectations that he could not make a good impact on himself. Zeitoun staying back in New Orleans was a poor decision because in the end he did not even make a difference on the community like he intended to. Opponents argue that Zeitoun made the right decision to stay in New Orleans. Many people believe that Zeitoun intended to stay back because he wanted to help save the citizens of New Orleans from the danger of the hurricane. Throughout the book Zeitoun uses a canoe that he had bought years ago to paddle around town and look for dangered people.
After the hurricane, Zeitoun was paddling down the street checking out the damage the hurricane brought and heard a woman screaming for help. He turned the corner and saw her hanging onto a bookshelf with her head just sticking out of the water. “An elderly woman like this would have no chance of swimming to safety, much less to have the strength to cut a hole through her roof…. He and Frank had no choice but to leave her and find help. They would paddle quickly to Claiborne and flag down a boat” (Eggers 100).
For that reason, he definitely had good intentions to stay back and help the town but he bit off a little more than he can chew. Paddling around town, Zeitoun would stop and talk to everyone he saw in danger. He would tell them that he will be back with help and a bigger boat. It is probably hard for Zeitoun to see people in desperate needs of help and not stop to help. h, Zeitoun is just an average person and can not help everyone on his own. It is understandable why the opposition believes that Zeitoun made the right decision to stay back because he shows good character and determination to help others.
Zeitoun staying back shows that he is trying to take advantage of his blessing and use it for other people’s benefits. Before he even had the chance to prepare his house for the hurricane, he would rather help board up his clients houses. It is very considerate of him and it is certainly a reliable reason to stay back. Nevertheless, in times of a hurricane everyman is for themselves. Zeitoun should make sure his family and him are safe before he helps his neighbors and friends. His family would have less stress if Zeitoun would have gone with them during the tough times.
In addition, he would have probably not ended up in prison. It would have been smarter for Zeitoun to move with his family, start new, and leave their past in New Orleans. Zeitoun made a bad decision by staying back in New Orleans while his family is fleeing to safety because he affected the lives of his family and made no significant impact on the town of New Orleans. In Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, Zeitoun is debating whether to stay back in his home town with a hurricane on the way or leave with his family. Zeitoun is a novel showing how one’s actions can really affect the way someone else lives.
When Zeitoun decided to stay back in New Orleans he is really testing the love and compassion his family has for him. His family wants what is good for him and knows that he is staying back for a reason that they may or may not understand. Just like the rest of us, we all have a special place in our hearts for our family that will not be filled by anything else. It is humbling to think what people would do to see a family member smile. That really goes to show what Zeitoun is all about and how much majority of the world can relate to the story of the Zeitouns.