We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Edward Said, a literary scholar and critic created the book After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (1986) along with the assistance of photographs from Jean Mohr. From this book we look at the piece “States” where Said talks about the exile of himself and the whole Palestinian nation in 1948. Said’s main goal and purpose of this essay was to provide a solid argument for the innocence of the Palestinians and he also wants to show the world how hard it was and still is to be a Palestinian. Said wants to go beyond the negative stereotype made by the media and show their side of the story. He writes about how the event of being exiled has affected his life growing up, the history of it, and the hardships Palestinians are forced to constantly go through and also with the use of powerful photographs to help the reader get a better perspective of the message he trying to say.

Like John Wideman, Edward Said also had his own unconventional writing tactics. Said was called a hybrid writer. In the essay “States” he never stuck to just one genre while writing, he used both literary and visual images to capture the reader’s attention. Said shifts through genres like an essayist, pictures, memoir, history, and argument. When it comes to the images Said places them in places that make he’s his writing all more meaningful.

From the very first page in “States” we see can see the hybrid writing. At the bottom of the page is a picture of a Palestinian wedding party taken just outside of a refugee camp. The caption at the bottom of the photo reads “Tripoli, Badawi camp, May 1983” in the paragraph above Said uses both documentary and essayist writing genres to talk about the picture. He gives the reader a little background knowledge of what’s happening in the photo and where it was taken, but then Said points out the Mercedes on the left side of the picture you see his essayist writing style. The Mercedes was a rare luxury in Western countries and was usually secondhand or illegally brought in. during this time the Mercedes was a social norm in Europe, the universal taxi and a vehicle that was proudly displayed in the driveway of someone’s home. So for the Palestinians this was a luxury that was out of place for them.

The Mercedes was emblem of home, which was something the Palestinians did not have. They were a people that had no home; they had been exiled and left with nothing. Within the first couple of paragraphs in Said’s essay the reader begins to feel the sense of what Said’s main purpose is going to be and how he’s going to go about writing it. He wants to tell and show the world the Palestinian side of the exile through the use of his words and the photos provided by Jean Mohr. Said was only a child when the exile happened so he doesn’t have a very good memory of what it was like to be forced to leave and because of the exile he is not aloud to enter Israel again. So to help the reader get a better understanding Said will use someone else’s experience of exile and because he can’t return he uses the Swiss photographer Jean Mohr to take pictures for him.

If Said were to have only used one of the many genres he uses the essay would have been incomplete and the reader would not have received the full impact of the story that Said was looking for. An example of Said’s hybrid writing would be how in only a couple pages he starts out with an argument, places a photo with some text after that, transitions his writing over to a memoir and then goes into writing about the Palestinian history, but even though he uses all these genres he still writes as an essayist within all of these paragraphs too.

He starts off is argument by talking about the identity of the Palestinians and how it’s a difficult thing to maintain after being exiled because you no longer have a home. Said then goes on to say “ We have no known Einsteins, no Chagall, no Frued or Rubinstein to protect us with a legacy of glorious achievements. We have had no Holocaust to protect us with the worlds compassion” (States, 546). He explains how they didn’t have a leader that was able to represent them and make it known to the world what was happening to them. Said has the great ability to write through many different genres within “States” and still make good transitions in between them so it’s able to still make sense to the reader and put out the message he wants. Directly following Said’s argument about the Palestinians lost identity he transitions over with no warning at all in a photo that has nothing to do with previous paragraphs. It’s this unpredictability that makes Said the hybrid writer that he is so known for being. In the picture he used we can see a food vender on the side of the road selling sweet cakes to a woman.

After looking at this photo at first I didn’t find it to be very relevant and it seemed to be out of place, but in the paragraph following it Said expressed how seeing the vender still there selling these cakes brought him a sense of recollection. “They seem to travel not only from place to place, but from an early time to the present, carrying with them the same clientele – the young girls and boys, the homeward – bound cyclist, the loitering student or clerk – now as then” (States, 547). This photo helps Said see that no matter what happened or what year it may be; there are some things that never seem to change. People still occasionally stop and buy these cakes that aren’t relatively good, nor bad, but its little things like this from Said’s past that can really trigger old memories and bring him back to a time when things were different. Now after Said finishes talking about the vender he brings us into a relatively smooth transition into the next paragraph where he starts a new genre, memoir.

He brings us back into a timeline of a few events form his past. Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935 and was later permanently removed from Palestine in 1947. He finished up the remained of his childhood living in Egypt and then in 1966 moved to the United States as a student. Said has family that has resettled in Jordan, Lebanon, the United States and parts of Europe. Prior to the Israeli invasion of 1982 Said would have had no problems traveling over the land through the Middle East, but now a days, because he’s a Palestinian, he’s no longer aloud to visit his mother who lives in Beirut. Said expresses his frustration of being told he’s never aloud to return to the place he grew up at or travel through the countries that once meant so much to him. He finds it unfair for him to be denied this simple request, for merely wanting to revisit the place he once made so many childhood memories. Now if Said had decided to leave this memoir out of his essay the reader wouldn’t understand that his life was shaped around this exile.

His memories provide the necessary input needed to be able to show the reader how difficult things still were for the Palestinians years after being exiled. It’s for reasons like this that Said uses such an unconventional writing strategy. He wants to show every aspect he can to help the reader better understand the Palestinians point of view on this all. After the exile, Palestinian families were forced to split up and move to places all around the globe. Said talks about how he has family that has resettled in Jordan, Lebanon, United States and Europe. This exile caused people to scatter and because of this there wasn’t a Palestinian community anymore, nothing to bring them all together which caused people to slowly lose some of their culture and also lose their native tongue do to the change in dialect for whichever part of the world they were living in. Now with the advances in modern day technology Said and his oldest Palestinian friend see the silver lining of the separation. Said’s friend Ibrahim Adu-Lughod says Thanks to modern technological progress, Palestinian families, and Palestinian society as a whole, have been able to forge very numerous human, social, and political links.

By getting on a plane I can see the majority of my friends. It’s because of this that our family has remained unified. I see all the members of my family at least once or twice a year. Being in Jaffa, I could have never have seen relatives who lived in Gaza for example. (States, 551) Even thought the new age of technology and advancements in transportation greatly assist in keeping the minority of the Palestinian people together Said and Ibrahim still feel an emptiness about it all. Even though they are able to communicate over the simple convenience of a telephone call or through social media they’ll still never be able to have that true feeling of being connected. They may be able to travel and be with family or friends a couple times a year but that will never replace the feeling of them all returning to home and being able to share all the old memories they made growing up there.

Normally when we look at a picture of a child they have a big smile and a look of joy across their whole face and it’s clear to see that they’re enjoying life and living in the moment. For the Palestinian children though, a smile is something that’s rare to come by for them. In the picture on page 552 there’s a boy standing with a hand on one hip and the other hanging to his side. There’s a look of sadness in his eyes that shouldn’t be there for how young he is and by looking at this boys face it’s clear to see that he’s already been through a lot in his short life. In the paragraph below this picture Said does a good job relating his text to the picture. He talks about how this generation of Palestinian children seemed to be bypassing their childhood and are being forced to mature much faster than they should be. Said then goes on to share a comment he heard while in Lebanon “Palestinian children in particular should be killed because each of them is a potential terrorist.

Kill them before they kill you” (States, 552) and after Said says this he moves on to his next topic of his essay. He ends with that statement and lets the pictures on pages 552 and 553 make the argument for him. On page 552 is the picture of the boy and on 553 is a picture of three children posing for a picture. Even though the children are forced to grow up at a more rapid age, the look of innocence is still there in their faces. Said’s awareness to do something like this is just another example of his unconventional writing and his ability to changes genres and be a hybrid writer. When someone picks up the essay “States” and reads it for the first time it would be common to get a reaction of confusion out them when they finished. When reading Said’s unconventional writing strategies for the first time it’ll leave the reader lost and disorientated. Said will catch the reader off guard when he jumps from genre to genre within a matter of two paragraphs, the lack of any particular order to the structure of the text and the pictures displayed throughout the essay.

He’ll go from describing a scene in a picture, to going over some history, then into his own memories, putting up an argument and then back to a memory from his childhood. From the use of many different genres, the lack of organization, and the pictures everywhere it can make the essay very hard to follow at times, but when the essays picked up again for a second reading and the reader takes more time to look over everything the structure of the essay begins to make much more sense. Said’s structure of the essay is made much more clearly and easier to understand after being read for a second time. He may take the reader on a bit of a rollercoaster at first, but its not done without reason.

Without the use of his hybrid writing Said wouldn’t have been able to say and show all that he wanted to. He’s goal was to make the whole world aware of how unfair the Palestinians were being treated and Said did just that with this essay. Said’s ability to incorporate the different genres and pictures made goals possible and now after reading this it would be impossible for the reader to not feel some sort of sympathy and respect for everything the Palestinians have been forced to go through.

Works Cited
Said, Edward, “States.” Ways of Reading.9th ed. Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 541-575. Print.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59