How do you interpret the end of Zeitoun on pages 273-325? Is it a comedy or a tragedy?

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While there are suggestions of a dark comedy, particularly the bumbling justice system and FEMA's asinine attempts to help the family, the end of Zeitoun clearly demonstrates the book is a tragedy as all of the characters in the book had their lives change dramatically for the worse after Abdulrahman is released from prison. Zeitoun, a man who let his pride interfere with logic, is the tragic character. Author Dave Eggers explains it best:

"He had risked too much in the hopes that he might do something to match the deeds of his brother Mohammed. No, it had never been a conscious part of his motivation — he had done what he could in the drowned city because he was there, it needed to be done, and he could do it. But somewhere in his gut, was there not some hope that he, too, could bring pride to his family?"

After he is released from being wrongfully imprisoned, Zeitoun is haunted by images and memories of his time in prison and his wife Kathy suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Eggers explains that Kathy, who spends the entire book searching for her husband, "lost her memory ... The wiring in her mind has been snapped in vital places..." In addition, Eggers explains that "Some nights Zeitoun struggles to sleep" and his children "fear water."

While the book ends with Zeitoun being hopeful about the future of New Orleans, the aftermath of the book, which can't be ignored, indicates that this is a tragedy.

Footnote: Although the above answer focuses on just the text, the true-life epilogue of Abdulrahman Zeitoun truly reads like a tragedy. After the events detailed in the book, which Kathy confirms are accurate, Zeitoun, whose struggle with PTSD is documented in the book, suffers from anger and abused his wife and is currently in prison.

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