In the Country of Men

by Hisham Matar

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In In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar, what are three adjectives to describe the main character, Suleiman?

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The three adjectives that describe Suleiman at this time of his life are trapped, intelligently perceptive (with an adverb modifying the adjective) and confused. A successful narrative exposition establishes the most essential character traits of the protagonist. In In the Country of Men, what we learn about Suleiman reveals his most essential characteristics, which lead to relevant adjectives describing him as we find him during his story. Suleiman opens with his interaction with his mother; he moves to his inner interactions with himself, then shares his surprise as he inexplicably sees his father, "right there, close enough that ... [he] could touch him," in town at the square graced by the statue of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. Intelligently perceptive, Suleiman feels trapped and confused by the complicated and overwhelming circumstances surrounding him in a veil of silence.

1. Trapped [adj]: Suleiman is surrounded by silent, deceit, and power struggles, and he is feeling a sense of responsibility for the power struggle engulfing his mother in "a world full of men and the greed of men."

2. Intelligently perceptive [adv+adj]: Suleiman is aware of the psychological battles within his mother, who acted "embarrassed and shy, as if she had walked out naked," and aware (beginning from the first morning of his story) of the fabrication within his father's life, who, supposedly away on business, walked from the square into "a building with green shutters ... the color of the revolution."

3. Confused [adj]: Suleiman felt far from governing an understanding of his place in the world; he felt far from conquering the forces that kept him from his father and his father from him--symbolized by two "dark lenses [that] curved ... over his [father's] eyes"--and that kept him angered toward his mother, "not caring if [he] lost her or became lost from her," as when he went to stand ironically under the statue of Septimius Severus, who began by governing Gaul and ended as the all-conquering Emperor of the Roman Empire (Ancient History Encyclopedia).

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