The Theme Of Vulnerability In The Persian Carpet By Hanan Shaykh

The vulnerable can be easily manipulated and taken advantage of in exchange for the desires of others. When an individual is desperate to get what they want, they will abuse their surroundings. Whether it is someone close, a stranger, or friend, they will exploit their vulnerability to get what they want. This concept is conveyed through Hanan Shaykh’s short story “The Persian Carpet."

In the story, the narrator, who is the protagonist, expresses feeling betrayal when she finds out that her mother was manipulating her family in order to steal a carpet. Before the parents’ divorce, the mother steals a Persian carpet and blames it on a poor old man. The mother was unsatisfied with her position in life, so she stole the carpet which resulted in the divorce she wanted. When the narrator realizes that the mother stole the carpet from her home, she was furious that her own mother would commit such a heinous act. Through the mother’s selfish choices it damaged the relationship and trust between her children.

In the story “The Persian Carpet”, the mother’s actions have impaired her children’s trust because she deceived her entire family and got away with stealing a carpet. Before meeting the mother, the narrator was thrilled, but she also explained that she “would be unable to throw herself into her arms and smother her with kisses." When she arrives with her sister, she reminiscences about memories of how her mother “kissed us and started to cry” during the scene of the divorce. However, these thoughts of her mother’s affection and love changed when she notices a Persian carpet spread on the floor of her mother’s new home. At this time, she was “trembling with burning rage” as she remembered the day the carpet went missing and the significance of the carpet. The carpet is an integral piece of her childhood because it reminded her of how she “used to lie on it as she did her lessons”, but it was more than just an object, it symbolized her mother’s dishonest behavior.

During the day the carpet went missing, the mother was said to be “in a state of fury and bewilderment” which was an act the mother played to manipulate her children. Her mother’s scheme was well thought out as she confused the children with her emotions. Her mother then blames Ilya, who was “an almost blind man who used to go round the houses of the quarter repairing cane chairs." The narrator was deniable about the fact that an old blind man could steal the carpet and even said “Don’t say such a thing, it’s not possible.’ As the narrator remembers these memories, she realizes that her mother lied, and she “wished that the moment of meeting could be undone and re-enacted." The mother used her children’s innocence and trust to deceit them in hope that they will believe her. The nearly blind man was an easy target to blame because he was blind, old, and was seen as less than by society. He acknowledged that there was no point in speaking up for himself because he had a lower social status. In the story, he made no effort to defend himself as he knew that it would be futile, so he “walked off, steadying himself against the railings.”

He was one of the vulnerable victims who was used by the mother to pursue her plan. The other victims, who were just as vulnerable as the old man were the children, they were naive and clueless of their mother’s hidden agenda and were also deceived by the mother’s fondness and affection.

I have also experienced being manipulated and the feeling when someone takes advantage of you for their own personal needs. I had a friend who took advantage of my help and time, who also didn’t care about our friendship at all. In grade 10 I had a close friend who was in my class and we came from the same Catholic junior high school. I will use the name P to respect the person’s privacy. When we arrived at Lester B Pearson it was the three of us: me, P and P’s sister. We were always with each other because we didn’t know anyone else. When I made new friends, P was jealous of that and kept the jealousy internally for a long time. Whenever P needed help with something I always offered my aid, we usually called via Facebook messenger. Once I was helping P with some math, I was bothered by how inattentive P was and P’s unwillingness to listen when I was explaining, so I had enough of this and I said that I had better things to do than try to help someone who doesn’t care. P took offence to this comment and we got into a fight; the fight soon revealed the truth about how P was only using me for academic purposes. I was getting used due to the result of P’s jealousy, which was unleashed during the call. I realized that I was taken advantage of for approximately 4 months, and I just found out after the fight. I was only a resource for P and I was nothing more than that. P used our friendship as a way to benefit for academic success. I was a vulnerable victim because I was a close friend and I didn’t find it suspicious at all when P constantly asked for help.

One’s dissatisfaction with life may result in malice actions and decisions, and these actions have consequences that may affect dear ones. In conclusion, we understand that anyone can take advantage of one another even in families or close friendships. Children are usually naive and as they start to grow they unravel the truth and realities they didn’t understand before. The narrator begins to understand that the mother only stole the carpet for her greedy wants, and she begins to understand that even family can’t be trusted. We could be taken advantage by anyone, even our family, so perhaps we should be aware and differentiate between someone who is using you or someone who is only asking for a simple favor.

03 December 2019
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