Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Said (sah-EED), an Arab thief and a traitor, uncommitted to any person or cause. Indigent and unwed, twenty-year-old Said acquiesces to marrying Leila, the ugliest girl in the village. He dreams of going to France to purchase a new wife but until then spends time at the bordello. Requiring money to fulfill his dreams, he begins to steal from his fellow workers in the orange groves and is thrown in jail. After his release, Said is ostracized by the farmworkers but protected by the French colonial bosses. When the rebellion gains momentum, he is given an assignment but sells out to the French Legion for money. After returning to the village, he is executed. Said does not appear in the land of the dead but disappears into nothingness.

The Mother

The Mother, Said’s impoverished mother. She is caustically humorous and fond of impersonating the sounds of barnyard animals. She derides her daughter-in-law, Leila, for being ugly and idiotic. She is ostracized by her peers for her son’s thievery and is forced to wander from village to village, residing in public dumps. She accidentally kills a soldier before dying and is thus revered by the revolution. She arrives in the land of the dead to find her peers and the soldier she murdered all very amiable. She warns her son not to serve any facet of the rebellion or any purpose whatsoever.


Leila, Said’s hideously ugly wife, who wears a black hood over her face. She readily accepts her plight in life. To be with Said, who she knows detests her, she takes up stealing. When she is not on the run with her mother-in-law from village to village, she is in prison with Said. Said puts out one of her eyes, and she accepts this as a good thing. Like Said, she has no passion for the rebellion. When Leila dies, she, like her husband, disappears into nothingness.


Warda, a prideful whore in her forties. She views prostitution in a shroud of glamour and mystery. She does not undress...

(The entire section is 843 words.)