Literature Circles – Nilsu: Passage Master

Borderline: pg 189-259

Passage #1

I’ve prayed the first chapter of the Qur’an so many times, I’ve stopped hearing the words. But now, in the predawn dark, they ring clear. Each syllable connects me to a power bigger than myself, a world of others praying the same words. My forehead tingles. I’m not alone. I’m not afraid. I’m going to save my Dad, my family, Inshallah. (Allan Stratton, 228)

This passage happens after Sami decides to go to Toronto to face Tariq Hasan in order to prove his father’s innocence. He wakes up the night he’s to leave for Toronto with a need to pray. This is the first time in the novel that Sami has had a connection with his religion, and it affects him deeply. He now feels that he is strong through praying to God. This is an important turning point in the book because Sami always considered his religious identity an afterthought, but now, Sami understands the power of his God and how the words of prayer affect his life. This is relevant to the story because Sami’s religious identity was something he always struggled with, but now he isn’t embarrassed about who he is.

Passage #2

It’s the middle of the night.
I’m staring at that framed photo on my bedside table, the one of me and Dad from his office. Who
is he?Who is he really? I don’t know. I don’t care. I hate him. He’s ruined my life. Mom’s too. 
I go to throw it in the garbage, but I can’t. (199)

This passage happens after Sami’s father’s first trial. Sami is unsure whether his father is truly innocent or not, and is facing the dilemma of if he should stand by him or not. He is mad at his father for getting his family involved in this case, but he cannot bring himself to throw the picture of him away. This is significant to the book because it shows Sami’s loyalty to his father despite how much he hates him. Throughout the whole book, Sami and his father haven’t had a positive interaction, and as a reader, I was unsure whether Sami actually loved his father. This passage proves that Sami loves his father deep down, and despite all the stress he’s put Sami through, Sami is still there for him.

Passage #3

What does evil look like, Sami? If monsters looked like monsters, we’d know who to run from. But they don’t. They scariest monsters look like family and friends. They’re the ones that get you. The ones you trust. You let them into your heart, and then it’s too late. They’ve got you. You’re dead. Ask Andy. He thought he knew his dad too.
No! I hit my head over and over, but the voice gets louder. I grab the photo of me and Dad, smash the frame face down on the floor, and shove it, hard, under my bed. I imagine the splintered glass tearing into the paper, shredding Dad’s face. (200-201)

In this passage, Sami is arguing with his inner voice, and is having an internal struggle to who his dad truly is: a monster, or his father? Sami is trying to defend his father, but his inner voice is telling him to face the facts; monsters are the ones we trust. Sami tries to fight the voice, but he ends up succumbing to it and smashing the picture of his father. This is a significant point in the book, because Sami has been conversing with this “inner voice” throughout the book. This is the first time Sami has given into the voice, showing that his mental struggles are manifesting in Sami’s life.

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