11.07.2019 in Literature

The House of Sand and Fog Essay Sample

The Struggles of Home Ownership and Self Acceptance

It is every persons wish to live a good life full of happiness with no much negative challenges. Today, so many people are working hard towards satisfying their primary needs, one of these needs being housing. Almost every one is struggling to buy or build a house for his/her family either through personal savings or mortgage loans. Unlike many stories which have characters being on the sympathetic side, in “The house of sand and fog” novel characters are given the chance to make decisions that push the story forward. This is an interesting story of a novel that brings out conflict between three individuals over an allegedly auctioned house and at long last, some characters and their relatives lose their lives.

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Initially, this house belongs to one drug addict Kathy Nicolo who is send a business tax bill from the county office but instead, she ignores it for she knows it has been sent in error and later on, the house is auctioned out of her ignorance(Dubus,4). After being auctioned, the ownership is passed on to Massoud Behraini. Although Kathy’s lawyer has filed suit against the county whose tax office made the error, Kathy has nowhere to go after she is evicted and now the author introduces us to a third character by the name Lester, a very determined and stubborn person who comes to her  help. Were it not for him, she could have become homeless. Basically this thesis revolves around those three major characters. One being Kathy who struggles towards retaining a home that legally belongs to her, the other character is an immigrant who buys Kathy’s home after being auctioned and last character is sheriff’s deputy.


The major subject the author wants us to understand is the search of redemption by the American people, as he uses the house in the story as a sign of the American dream. He further uses the conflict of American and Iranian cultures, while factoring in the humanitarian nature of every participant in this story (Dubus, 23). The whole saga comes as a result of unsettled bills as claimed by the county, whereby at this point we get to know Behraini very well, an Iranian immigrant and former colonial air force officer who buys Kelly’s house at expense of his son’s education fee, with aim of renovating it so that he may sell it in future at a profit. During this time, Behirani is unable to find a job here in the United States and he can only rely on the economic opportunity that opens, and it is during this time when he sees a house on auction at the sheriff’s.

Behirani decides to shift his family from their residential house, into the new dramatic home after buying the new house. As a result, Kathy is forced to live in her car and rental motel room later on but she becomes unable to pay for her room and starts strolling into leaser’s life, decides to intoxicate him so that she may get a chance to seduce him and leave his wife and children for her. something that Lester was not ready for, as we see that during his teenage life, his father abandoned him and his mother, an action that tormented his life and vowed never to do the same to his children After Kathy succeeds in her mission, they go through the protocols and ends up hiring a lawyer to help them peruse the case, but their plans don’t yield a thing (Dubus, 44).

As the whole drama unfolds, we can with no doubt conclude that, desperate times call for desperate actions. It was such a hard thing for Kelly to bear with, especially after imagining that, she was coming into terms with yet another tough challenge of losing his beloved husband, a challenge that led her attempt to commit suicide in two different occasions though she did not make it. Bahraini’s decision to buy the house was because it was under auction, and not like he had intentions to hurt Kathy. He had the cash and knew it was a good investment opportunity for his family (Dubus, 53).

 It is such a pity to Behrani who loses his family in this fight. Could he have paid for his son’s education fee, he could not have faced all these miseries as we see that, his son die out of a bullet shot by the county officers. Some would conclude that there was very little justice in this case. An emotionally broken woman, Kathy, suddenly finds herself homeless after her house is wrongly repossessed and auctioned. I wonder why some people would feel so comfortable taking advantage of such situations as Lester did. This guy is such an opportunistic and very immoral, as he comes to the aid of Kathy and becomes intimately involved in her situation. Soon, Behrani, a proud emigrant Iranian and his family move into the house only to find their new lives burdened by harassment from Lester and Kathy as they attempt to reclaim her former home(Dubus,67). The once prosperous colonel denies Kathy’s pleas for he knows his recent purchase promises a profitable return and a better future for his adolescent son and extravagant wife. But latent consequences lie beneath Bahrain’s well intentioned plan as Kathy’s emotions spiral out of control and her actions spark a tragic chain of events that will leave no resident unscathed in the House of Sand and Fog.

At the start of the novel ,we see Bahraini leaving home as a very decently dressed man but later on he changes and starts working as a garbage collector only to return home well dressed after job. The impact here is that, it calls for commitment in order to attain your the results you anticipate in future .The key point is that, Americans should fight for their economy through committing themselves in whatever thing that can improve their lives.

It is very interesting to see the way in which Nadi reasons, especially after realizing that they are slowly losing the battle as she maintains that, could they have stuck to their normal life, it would be a nice opportunity for their daughter to get a good husband.

It is a very tough time for Behranis family as they experience torture from Lester. Look at the way they undergo hardships after being locked in their own bathroom and worst Lester is not ready to let them out unless Massoud agrees to sell back the house to the county. A condition that leaves the family with no option but to sell it back and instead, transfer the ownership back to Kathy in order to buy back their freedom(Dubus,68). From the way in which Lester behaves during the time they are in the county offices finalizing the documents, we can say that he was one such inhuman person as he manhandles Massoud to a point of making His son snatch a gun to shoot him. Lester could instead have used the right protocols to solve the whole thing other than using excessive force.

When Massoud is advised to press charges against Lester, he instead decides to keep quite and goes home weeping, a sign that life is treating him so unfairly, and eventually he is ready to accept death as the only way to be free, and he does so by drinking Nedereh’s tea that has lethal dose. When Kathy comes in to the house, she is very much shocked to see the two couple dead, with Massoud dressed on his old military uniform and plastic dust cover around his head. One great lesson we can learn from this particular scenario is that, Kathy is very sentimental person as she openly says that the house is not hers when asked by the policemen if the house is hers. It is out of her humanitarian nature that she greatly feels sorry for the way in which this family perishes.

As the story comes to close, the theme that has become evident is the struggle of home ownership and the consequences that are followed by some mistakes committed. It is such a big pity to see that Bahrain never lived his dream of selling the house at a higher profit and that, his whole family perishes in the process of living in foreign territory (Dubus, 59). When you look at this issue in literal world, you will find that, this novel has got direct relationship with the way in which colonies got in to various countries, invested much in various sectors and drove away the citizens, leaving them with no place to settle but later when the freedom fighters unite together, they end up driving these settlers with all means available.

On the other end Kathy Nicolo, did not pay attention to the bill she had been sent. Could she have taken immediate actions, then all these calamities could not have happened. She plays a very critical role in the novel as we get to know that, you should always be ready for anything and that, giving up easily is not the solution to the problems we face in live as we see her undergo very tough times. After leaving his parents, his beloved husband dies and worst, she is left with no place to call home after her house is auctioned by the county (Dubus, 60).

The story is very educative to the young people on the importance of hard work, as it brings out Behrani as most mature man who is very much dedicated towards providing for his family. He actually plays every role a responsible male is expected to play in the family as we see how he struggled to provide the only income to his family by multitasking very hard jobs such as construction and collection of garbage.Behrani also deserves credit for his efforts to provide security to his family until his death (Dubus, 61).

Another important teaching we get from this novel is that, very small situation can turn out to be a very dangerous issues to handle, for we see how the slight mistake committed by the county officers made every thing escalate, leaving several people dead besides losing their valuables, and so they never lived the American dream of happy life.

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