Masked Authority

November 1st, 2014

For me, the story of the wedding of Zein centered around the theme of authority, provoking questions concerning the origin and appearance of authority. I identified familial authority, specifically with the right of the father to accept or deny the offers of marriage for their daughters. Even in Ni’ma’s case, where the right to reject Zein’s offer was clearly within the daughter’s control, tradition and authority dictated that the father, the patriarch, holds authority. I noticed patterns in these ideas of authority that paralleled sources of authority in my life, so the first three parts of this poem discuss those parallels in the form of a slam poem. I discuss my grandmother, my mother, and my father, who hold authority of declining strength in that order, and the reasons that they hold this authority, as well as the ways that authority manifests itself.

Furthermore, the parts of the book that discuss the authority of tradition have strong equivalencies in my life. In Zein’s world, religious tradition is incredibly important to the process by which he asks for a woman’s hand in marriage, as well as to the establishment of the religious leaders in the village as a disliked, though necessarily respected, form of authority. In my life right now, it is the environment at Harvard which I find to hold dictative potential and a high degree of authority over the way that I think and feel.

Finally, I have had experiences myself as an authoritative figure, as Zein did. I express this through the stanzas concerning debate, which talk about the way that my role of authority changed based upon the needs of the teammates I was helping, much like Zein was able to provide a lighter mood (such as at the weddings) or a compassionate gesture (as when he helped the social outcasts that no one else would speak with).

I have chosen to present the poem in the form of the questions that freshmen ask each other in Annenberg: These questions are ridiculously commonplace, and rather frustrating to answer every time because the conversation never has the chance to wind its way into these deeper questions concerning our lives from back home, or the different parties that we feel are affecting the way we experience Harvard or the world. It further doubles to show that behind these simple answers, parallel to Zein’s comic, plain face, there exists a complex system of authority and interconnected factors controlling behavior and thoughts.

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