AWEJ Special Issue on Literature No.1, 2013                                                                               Pp. 55-66

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  The Interplay of Identities in Jamal abu Hamdan’s Novella The Blood Line

Shadi Neimneh
English Department, Faculty of Arts
Hashemite University
Zarqa, Jordan

Abdel Baset Zyoud
Arabic language Department
Hashemite University, Jordan



This paper argues the construction of identity in Jamal abu Hamdan’s novella The Blood Line (خيط الدم ). It is argued that identity is the product of many things other than the typical blood line. The novella, we contend, dramatizes the interplay of different identities within individuals and the multi-dimensional nature of identity. Although religion is a primal aspect of identity constitution, history, language, and past experiences are other factors that aggravate or mitigate the religious makeup of identity. Moreover, identity is often influenced by factors like gender and place. Hence, identity is the product of its sociocultural and sociopolitical environment, which should explain our claim that is a construct rather than fixed or essentialized. Alternatively, this novella shows that one’s sense of self, i.e. one’s individual identity, is different from group identification, i.e. the collective identity. They often clash, with the latter proving to be stronger than the former—as the novella’s end shows and since social demands are stronger than individual wishes. Past heritage, i.e. a common past, rather than acting as a marker of difference among people, can unify polar identities and bring the best out of them in a loving relationship, even if this relationship is doomed to fail due to sociocultural norms. The novella, thus, explores the contested nature of identity and its gamut from the personal—selfhood—to the collective—selflessness.

Keywords: Contemporary Arabic Novel; Identity; Jamal abu Hamdan; Jordanian Literature; World Literature


Dr. Shadi Neimneh is assistant professor of literary and cultural studies in the English language
department at Hashemite University (Zarqa, Jordan). He is currently the chair of the department.
He has published numerous articles in international journals on South African apartheid literature
and diverse aspects of literary modernism.