The Broken Wings is considered Gibran’s best writing in Arabic. The prose poem, set in Lebanon, is written in the first person and skillfully uses everyday words. Gibran effectively engages the reader in the work’s depiction of emotion, alienation, and the longing for connections.
The central male character is a young Lebanese student who meets Ferris Effandi, a friend of his father. The young man meets and falls in love with Effandi’s daughter, Selma, who is described as “beautiful in both spirit and body.” They are prevented from marrying when the village bishop chooses Selma to be the wife for his nephew. After Selma marries, she and her friend do not meet again until they see each other at Effandi’s house just before his death. When Selma reveals the conditions of her unhappy marriage, Effandi asks the young man to be Selma’s brother and friend.
Defying the social customs of the day, the two meet secretly and regularly in a secluded temple to talk and share their thoughts. These bittersweet hours spent together cannot heal Selma’s failing health, which is caused by unhappiness. She begins to see death as her rescuer. When her newborn son dies, she holds him in her arms and says, “You have come to take me away my child . . . lead me and let us leave this dark cave.”
There is some debate as to whether or not The Broken Wings is autobiographical. Some think Gibran is recounting the story of...
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