Suhayr al – The Gallows Artifact

For my Artifact Analysis, I chose to analyze the short story, The Gallows by Suhayr al. The story describes a public execution of some kind, taking place in a city square. When reading this story over, the first couple times, there were a lot of questions in my head. Suhayr used a lot of different metaphors and symbolism to make the reader think. Suhayr-al was a literacy figure and politician who shaped Egyptian culture through her writing, specifically feminist activism and advocacy. She was born into a family which cared about educating female family members and was exposed to a lot of literature, at a young age, helping shape her literacy and writing.

The beginning of the story starts off with you in the prison, you have no choice but to either get it over with or rot inside for the rest of your life. As you exit the prison, into a city square, you are surrounded by a mass of people who all used to be you, free. As the event proceeds, people get louder and all stare at you, this appears to be an image of peer pressure and judgment from society. As people watch from the crowd, you are beaten in front of them. You begin to bleed from your mouth. People begin to chant louder and louder, you see nothing because of blood covering your face. Your body being to surrender and a noose is tied around your neck.

“Why do you trouble your little head with looking around you? No matter what the capacity of this head is, you won’t be able to see more than the range of half a circle. You want to see what’s behind you? You never can. Look ahead, straight ahead, for only what you actually behold with your own eyes is a certainty. As for what’s behind you, it’s nothing more than something behind you; it may or may not exist.” (Suhayr-al)

I read this paragraph, separately, many more times than the rest of the story. It just stuck out to me. There’s no point in looking around at others, for happiness, nobody makes you happy beside yourself. Always follow what you want to do and don’t let anyone stop you. This quote speaks to me because often I would reflect on the past causing me to overthink a lot and stress out. Through my artifact analysis, I guess the one thing to remember from this is to just forget about the past and look at the future. No matter what situation you may be in, don’t think about what happened, and think about what will happen.

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