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Camp Greyhound Symbol Analysis

Camp Greyhound Symbol Icon

Camp Greyhound is the massive temporary prison complex that housed Zeitoun and his three acquaintances, before they were transferred to a state prison. The complex is built in only a couple of days, immediately after the storm. Housed in the train and bus station, it is strikingly efficient—especially compared to the chaos of the rest of the city. In some ways, this efficiency reflects the skewed motives that, Eggers argues, characterized law-enforcement and legal response to the storm—emphasizing security, order, and militarized action rather than search and rescue. Camp Greyhound thus symbolizes both the extraordinarily well-coordinated militarized response to Hurricane Katrina, as well as a deeper malfunction: the breakdown of other systems, like the legal and judicial systems, which are meant to ensure people’s basic human rights, even in times of crisis.

Camp Greyhound Quotes in Zeitoun

The Zeitoun quotes below all refer to the symbol of Camp Greyhound. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family, Community, and Home Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Zeitoun published in 2010.
Part 4: Tuesday September 6 Quotes

When Zeitoun and the others entered the main room of the station, immediately fifty pairs of eyes, those of soldiers and police officers and military personnel, were upon them. There were no other civilians inside. It was as if the entire operation, this bus station-turned-military base, had been arranged for them.

Related Characters: Abdulrahman Zeitoun, Nasser Dayoob, Todd Gambino, Ronnie
Related Symbols: Camp Greyhound
Page Number: 210-211
Explanation and Analysis:

Zeitoun has been arrested with the three other men in the house, and his experience is beginning to take on a surreal quality. He has no idea why he's been arrested, where he'll be taken, or what will happen next. All he can tell is that what began as a natural tragedy, a devastating hurricane, has now morphed into something quite different. Rather than a rescue operation, the officials here seem to have quickly cobbled together a makeshift center based around crime and even war. At the same time, Zeitoun cannot see any evidence that such a vast structural operation stems from a real need at all. He believes he hasn't done anything wrong, and he doesn't see any other guilty parties: instead, these institutions seem to have cropped up almost of their own will. As the book shifts away from an inspiring section on Zeitoun's feats in helping others after the hurricane, it turns towards a more somber aspect of the days and weeks after Katrina, when social trauma and injustice proved even greater than natural disaster.


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Part 4: Wednesday September 7 Quotes

Who did this work? Were there contractors and laborers working around the clock on a prison days after the hurricane? It was mind-boggling. It was all the more remarkable given that while the construction was taking place, on September 2, 3, and 4, thousands of residents were being plucked from rooftops, were being discovered alive and dead in attics.

Related Characters: Abdulrahman Zeitoun
Related Symbols: Camp Greyhound
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

As a businessman and a contractor, Zeitoun is adept at judging the amount of labor and time needed to accomplish certain tasks of construction. As he looks around Camp Greyhound, he marvels at this feat, recognizing just how much work it must have taken. In this passage, Zeitoun first wonders about the precise logistics of this process, failing to imagine how he, if in charge of it, would have been able to carry it out. Almost immediately, he compares this remarkable process with what he knows, from personal experience, to have been the real needs of people in New Orleans in the days after the hurricane.

Though he doesn't say it explicitly, the comparison suggests that valuable time, money, and energy were siphoned away from those who needed rescuing and put into the construction of this facility whose function Zeitoun still doesn't entirely grasp. Once again, the book aims to portray the disconnect between the reality of Hurricane Katrina, which essentially created domestic refugees in need of rescue and of medical help, and the response, which emphasized the criminal and even warlike dangers after the storm.

The ban on phone calls was, then, purely punitive, just as the pepper-spraying of the child-man had been born of a combination of opportunity, cruelty, ambivalence, and sport. There was no utility in that, just as there was no utility in barring all prisoners from contacting the outside world.

Related Characters: Abdulrahman Zeitoun
Related Symbols: Camp Greyhound
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

Zeitoun is feeling enormously guilty for having dismissed Kathy's concerns, especially now that he knows she must be so worried about him. He thinks his situation would all be much better if he could only have a chance to call her. In addition, according to American law, anyone arrested has the legal right to a phone call - a right that Zeitoun has not been granted since he's been here. After running through various possibilities for why this might be the case, Zeitoun settles on one: the guards have simply chosen the lack of the phone call as punishment for people they assume to be guilty of something, even if they haven't said what.

Zeitoun has been trying to find a rational way to account for the behavior of the officials at Camp Greyhound, but now he is beginning to realize that reason and utility are not going to serve him here. A structure ostensibly set up to hold criminals and keep people safe is doing the opposite: indeed, the forces meant to work for justice are exhibiting shockingly unjust behavior. Because there are no real reasons for the guards to keep these people prisoners, they invent various means of punishing them, as if they've entered a bizarre universe where the rules, laws, and values of society no longer apply.

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Camp Greyhound Symbol Timeline in Zeitoun

The timeline below shows where the symbol Camp Greyhound appears in Zeitoun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 4: Friday September 9
Crime, Justice, and Injustice Theme Icon
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
...and the others are told that they’ll be moving out of what they’ve called “Camp Greyhound.” Zeitoun is handcuffed to another prisoner and told to board a simple old school bus.... (full context)
Part 4: Sunday September 11
Crime, Justice, and Injustice Theme Icon
...of the men had been brought to a makeshift court in the office at Camp Greyhound with a judge and at least one lawyer, were told their charges, and offered a... (full context)
Part 4: Friday September 16
Crime, Justice, and Injustice Theme Icon
...was set at $50,000, 100 times the usual amount for bail. She was brought to Greyhound and then to Hunt’s sister prison, and was only freed with the help of a... (full context)
Part 5: Fall 2008
Crime, Justice, and Injustice Theme Icon
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
...leaving Walgreens. Lima filled out paperwork for the arrest and drove the suspects to Camp Greyhound. Later he saw the maps, cash, and memory chips laid out on a table, and... (full context)
Crime, Justice, and Injustice Theme Icon
Human vs. Natural Tragedy Theme Icon
Camp Greyhound grew famous after the storm, and Amtrak clerks still show visitors where prisoners were fingerprinted,... (full context)
Crime, Justice, and Injustice Theme Icon
Faith, Perseverance, and Dignity Theme Icon
...after Zeitoun’s release, after he had recovered somewhat, Kathy insisted that they return to Camp Greyhound to recover Zeitoun’s wallet, which contained his ID. Nervous, Zeitoun drove to the Greyhound station... (full context)