De Niro’s Game
“De Niro’s Game” by Rawi Hage is a coming of age story about a boy named Bassam from war torn Lebanon. The main settings are the headings of the three parts of the novel; Roma, Beirut and Paris. The settings help to illustrate character development, the novel’s themes and are important symbols throughout.
The first section of the novel is entitled “Roma,” but the events all occur in Beirut. Bassam never goes to Roma, however it is always present in the novel and an important symbol throughout. Roma is a place that Bassam has wanted to go his entire life. Roma symbolizes Bassam’s hope for a better life. He fantasizes that it is a perfect place, almost a heaven. When a little girl from his neighborhood dies he says “I went to the little girl’s funeral, the little girl who was on her way to Roma.” pg. 25. While visiting his friend George he says that they “whispered conspiracies, exchanged money, drank beer, rolled hash in soft, white paper and I praised Roma.” pg. 34. In the Roma section Bassam is younger and more innocent than in the other sections. Bassam is still a petty criminal. He only commits small crimes such as vandalism and drug use. The fact that the first section is called Roma, yet it is not in Roma, is a form of foreshadowing, suggesting this fantasy may never become reality.
The second part of the novel is called “Beirut.” This section is the turning point of Bassam’s life. In this section Bassam stops dreaming about Roma. Beirut symbolizes Bassam’s loss of innocence. He starts committing major crimes, such as murdering the militiaman ‘Rambo.’ Bassam starts to learn about the brutality of the war and the slaughter being committed by the militia. Beirut is a symbol of the horror in the world. In Beirut, Bassam realizes how harsh reality and the war are. Soon after realizing this he says “Ten thousand coffins had slipped underground and the living still danced above ground with firearms in their hands”...
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