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Speak, Bird, Speak AgainPalestinian Arab Folktales$
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Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780520062924

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520062924.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Family Life

Family Life

(p.230) Family Life
Speak, Bird, Speak Again

Ibrahim Muhawi

University of California Press

This chapter presents a Palestinian folktale focusing on a hostile brother/sister relationship. A girl's honor is her most precious possession, and the only way she can ruin her family is by sexual transgression. Only one socially acceptable reason exists for killing a sister, and that is to regain the family honor by removing the shame of such a transgression. While such situations have always been rare, when they do occur, this ultimate form of punishment is sanctioned by society. In the story, the family accepts the shame and is destroyed, but the brother gains everything in the end—his lions as well as the caravan. Nevertheless, the blood bond between brother and sister proves in the long run powerful and indestructible, and finally outweighs the hostility. Even though he has killed her, she is still his sister, and she does not wish to see strangers take something from him.

Keywords:   Palestinian folktale, brothers, sisters, ghoulishness, sexual transgression, family honor

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