Reflectionon House of Sand and Fog
Reflectionon House of Sand and Fog
Mostliterature scholars would say that a good drama can be summarized ina single sentence. For the novel ‘House of Sand and Fog’ by AndreDubus III, this statement is true. It is a perfect case of two dogs,one bone. From the novel, we see that there are two people who arefighting for the ownership of a house they both believe that theyhave a right to own. A former colonel in the Iranian Air Force wasforced to flee to the United States with his family. He does odd jobsin America but still wants to please his family by offering them agood life. The opportunity to own the bungalow in Southern Californiais one that presents him with an opportunity to restore his dignity.On the other hand, the owner of the house is a recovering addict whowas left the house by her parents. She is willing to give everythingto have her house as it is the only thing with stability in her life.The novel is a masterpiece that combines Shakespearean consequenceswith American realism as the three main characters are involved in aconflict that paints a shockingly true picture of the situation inthe United States.
Setting,context, and point of view
Thenovel is written in the first person using three voices: those ofKathy, Lester, and Behrani. The setting is in late august to earlySeptember of the year 1993. The house that is the source of conflictin the novel is located at 34 Bisgrove Street, Corona, California. Atthe start of the novel, Kathy is living in the house but ismistakenly evicted by government authorities for not paying hertaxes. The house is then sold to Colonel Behrani at about a quarterits market price. The tax office had advertised the bungalow ashaving a ‘widow’s walk’. This is a term that many people inthis time are not familiar with. It was used in eastern United Statescoast in the 18thcentury to refer to a flat roof with a railing. The phrase was coinedfrom the notion that widows would look to the sea for their whalinghusbands who did not return from these flat roofs with railings.There are various things that have changed from the world of thenovel that was published in 1999. For instance, houses are quiteexpensive and cannot be obtained for that price and especially so inthe Pacific Suburbia. I also believe that with advancements intechnology, there could not be a bureaucratic issue with tax payment.The issue with Kathy would have been solved easily using the readilyavailable electronic records. Another thing that seems far-fetched isthe idea that the Kathy, Lester, and Behrani had personalconfrontations over the house. In today`s world, there is more faithin the judicial system and the conflict would have been resolved in acourthouse and most likely avoided the tragic end.
Thethree main characters in the novel are Kathy Nicolo, Lester Burdon,and Colonel Behrani. Throughout the novel, Kathy remains immature butis resolute to get her house back. She also lacks insight into herown role in the contribution to the disorganization she faces in herlife. Lester, on the other hand, is dynamic. At the start of thenovel he is loyal, stable and a responsible person. As the storyprogresses, his relationship with Kathy impairs his perspective ofwrong and right. At the conclusion of the book, we see Lester asbeing emotionally unstable, violent, impulsive and confused. ColonelBehrani’s character is static. He is wounded, static and fixated onregaining the self-worth and status that he had when in Iran. Hefails to accept the fact that his life has changed and this is mainlybecause of his pride. He is not willing to alter his character evenin the face of great tragedy and irrefutable facts.
Thenovel explores the catastrophic consequences of a complicatedmisunderstanding between the three main characters. Kathy and ColonelBehrani are pitted against each other from the start with theconflict over the ownership of the house. The introduction of deputysheriff Burdon Lester makes events in the novel to spin out ofcontrol. Lester’s character is crucial to the story as he acts as acatalyst that propels the plot into unforeseen action. I believe thatit is him who led to the ultimate tragedy for the other characters inthe book. His insecurity and selfishness had profound impacts on theending. Furthermore, his commitment to assist Kathy leads to herinability to handle the situation quickly. He offers her money tostay in a hotel and later on a cabin which made Kathy avoid dealingwith the problem. If Lester had not been there, Kathy would havepressured her lawyer into taking actions that would have resulted ina different fate for the characters. Lester also becomes a negativeinfluence to Kathy as she goes back to drinking during their timetogether.
IfI had the opportunity to intervene and help solve this conflict, Iwould have ensured that there is no tragic end for the peopleinvolved. It is true that both Kathy and Colonel Behrani havejustified claims to the house. The problem is up to the governmentfor making the error about Kathy’s tax and consequently evictingher. I believe that it is the tax authorities that are to blame forthis situation and they are the ones liable to compensate Kathy. Thetax authorities should step in and get another house of the samecaliber for colonel Behrani and his family. Kathy should be allowedto keep the house in conflict because it is where she grew up in andit is important for her identity as a person.
Onenovel that I found unique is “A Good Man is Hard to Find” byO’Connor. What I found to be interesting is the fact that the storyis based on what the author encountered and the resources at hand.These include the people she came in contact with, what materials sheread. When writing this story, O’Connor was located in Andalusiawhich is a dairy farm. She was very ill during this time and hertrips away from the farm were limited. It is seen that the characterof the Misfit, the person who kills a whole family in the story, isdrawn from local newspaper accounts of two criminals that hadterrorized Atlanta in the 1950s. This is a unique feature about theauthor and her fiction work that I found quite interesting.
TheHouse of Sand and Fog novel is one of tragedy as it explores thedestruction of decent but flawed characters with normal desires andgood intentions. The author has an excellent ability to get insidehis characters and showing the view of the world from theirperspectives. From this, we see that they are driven by similar needsinto the inevitable conflict with a tragic ending. The novel is anarrative triumph that sucks the reader into the world of thecharacters. Almost everybody can relate to the characters as mostpeople are also in search of justice and love in their lives. It is areal story of what happens when an American dream becomes crooked.
DubusIII, A. (2003). House of Sand and Fog. 1999. Reprint.New York: Vintage.