Zeitoun

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Zeitoun Part 1: Monday August 29 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Zeitoun wakes up late the next morning to strong winds and rain and a few more leaks. There are fallen trees and a foot of water outside—not much worse than other hurricanes he can remember.
Despite the dire warnings and even the ominous beginning of the storm the night before, it appears that the scale of it has been overestimated.
Themes
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Kathy goes to Wal-Mart with the kids to stock up on supplies. The place is nearly bought out, but she manages to snag a package of flashlights.
This visit to Wal-Mart shows that others, even outside New Orleans, have taken heavy precautions—in fact, the worst part of the storm didn’t pass over New Orleans at all, but over the Mississippi gulf coast.
Themes
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
In New Orleans, the weather calms in the afternoon and Zeitoun leaves the house to find his canoe floating in the backyard. He paddles around an uprooted tree and through the silent street, seeing only a few neighbors who are wading through their yards and looking at the damage. He wonders if the flimsy aluminum canoe will withstand the shock of exposed power lines, and he turns around to return home.
Zeitoun’s first experience in the canoe is somewhat anti-climactic, as it appears there is less to do and fewer places to explore than he might initially have thought. The “natural” disaster has now passed for the city, but the “human” disaster still has yet to really begin.
Themes
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
That evening the water recedes entirely and the streets are dry, so Zeitoun calls Kathy to tell her to return home. She’s about to eat dinner with the kids, and knows there’s still no power in New Orleans, so she decides to wait until the next day. Kathy is slightly upset that her sisters put pork (which Muslims don’t eat) on the table, but she decides not to make an issue out of it this time.
By Monday evening, it appears that the storm has blown over and that there was much less to worry about than the authorities had warned. Meanwhile, Kathy is struggling to reconcile her personal faith with her family’s traditions and lack of understanding.
Themes
Family, Community, and Home Theme Icon
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
Islam and Islamophobia Theme Icon
Get the entire Zeitoun LitChart as a printable PDF.
Zeitoun.pdf.medium
In the evening Zeitoun’s second cousin Adnan, who manages Subway franchises in New Orleans, calls to ask if Zeitoun is still in the city. Zeitoun confides that it’s a little scary to be among the only ones left—something he never would tell Kathy. Adnan has gone to Baton Rouge with his pregnant wife, and he asks if Zeitoun knows of any mosques there. Adnan’s parents had managed to sleep in one the night before, but it’s now packed with people. Zeitoun tells Adnan to call Kathy, who will surely take them in. Zeitoun gets ready for bed, grateful to think of how little damage the house has suffered.
The advantage of having family members a phone call away is that Zeitoun can easily confide in them. He hopes that he can be of reciprocal help to Adnan through Kathy and her family, which Zeitoun assumes will be happy to lend a hand at a stressful time, with so many people stranded far from home. Unfortunately, he doesn’t account for their prejudices.
Themes
Family, Community, and Home Theme Icon
Faith, Perseverance, and Dignity Theme Icon
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
Islam and Islamophobia Theme Icon