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“I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother” Play by Zubi Essay

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Updated: May 9th, 2021


Modern literature remains one of the potent tools used by authors to demonstrate their attitudes to diverse issues and make people think about different aspects of their lives. Moreover, the 20th and the 21st century are characterized by the emergence of numerous conflicts that altered the world and resulted in the appearance of shifts in people’s mentalities (Ali). For this reason, the literature of that period of time acquired a powerful stimulus towards its development and blistering rise. However, along with the traditionally powerful positions of the Western culture and artworks, the modern age could also be characterized by the growth of authors who bear another culture (Ali).

It could be explained by diverse conflicts peculiar to the 20th century and the Middle Eastern region. People living in this area experienced a chain of dramatic and devastating civil and other military conflicts that altered their lives radically (Ali). These events could not remain unnoticed by the modern authors or individuals who experienced them. Thus, the play I am Yusuf and this is my Brother by Amir Nizar Zubi belongs to this very category of literature as it appeared under the impact of the military conflicts that happened in the middle of the 20th century.


Amir Nizar Zubi is both a writer and a director of the discussed play. The main motive for its creation apparently appeared under the impact of his personal experiences and knowledge of the current situation in the area. The author belongs to those Palestinians who stayed in Israel and refused to leave their homes (Billington).

However, instead of trying to blame some of the parties for the conflict and reveal they’re inappropriate actions, the author is more focused on the life of usual people who have to survive in terms of the rapidly deteriorating situation, make their choices, and face diverse conflicts stipulated by the differences in perspectives on the primary causes of the opposition, its resolution, and future destiny (Billington). For this reason, it becomes the central theme of the whole play. The author devotes much attention to diverse clashes between people and shows how they alter the situation.

Peculiarities of the Play

All actions described in the play took place in Palestine during the period of Partition and Balfour Declaration (Billington). The author takes readers back to the end of the 1940s to show despair, grief, moral issues, and problems that arose before people living in the area. Nevertheless, the whole play revolves around the love story of two people, Ali and Nadia. They are in love, and their feelings are opposed to the growing political crisis and continuous aggravation of the situation in the area (Zuabi 6).

However, it is not a happy love story as it is accompanied by numerous conflicts between the characters of the play. Another distinctive feature is the use of poetic and simple style to depict all events that happen during the story (McCarthy). Due to this approach, the play becomes an outstanding example of modern literature that makes people think about traditional values and oppose them to events peculiar to the modern world. Zuabi managed to create powerful and touching images of people living in the area and facing sophisticated ethical dilemmas.


Palestine and UN

Thus, analyzing I am Yusuf and this is my Brother it is impossible not to mention conflicts that are a central part of this play. The first obvious opposition that impacts the actions of all characters and shapes the development of the story is the struggle between Palestine and the UN. From the historical perspective, this conflict resulted in the appearance of drastic changes in the political picture of the world and the aggravation of relations between people in the area. However, Amir Nizar Zuabi is focused on peoples destinies regarding this opposition. Rufus, the British private from Sheffield, is introduced by the author to personify the party to the conflict (Billington).

He proclaims that Palestinian people will not be abandoned: “In the name of the British Government I tell you: you are not alone! The British Empire stands behind you. Five hundred years of achievements stands behind you!” (Zuabi 35). However, despite the fact that he seems friendly, he represents another world that interferes with the Palestinian one and wins. The given conflict serves as the background for the development of other oppositions and complicated relations mentioned in the play as all people have to act regarding new conditions cultivated by the consequences of the Partition.


Another conflict that is closely related to this one could be observed between the inhabitants of the village where the action takes place. They are divided and they do not know what to do. There are two options as they can run or fight. “The war was over before it began,” Says Nagi being sure that there is no reason in struggling because of the existing political situation (Zuabi 41). At the same time, other villagers are ready to engage in military conflict to protect their land and interests.

The given issue divides people into two camps as there is no common perspective on this issue. In such a way, being placed in the middle of the political crisis, people should also decide what to do and how to act to preserve their interests and save their nationhood. The given problematic issue is also connected with the rest of the conflicts mentioned in the play as its scale and power impact all Palestinians.

Ali and Yusuf

As we have already stated, there are numerous smaller conflicts that shape the story and contribute to a better understanding of the situation peculiar to the region at that period of time. At the same time, they are connected to the previous ones as their development is triggered by the aggravation of the international relations and initiation of Palestines Partition. For instance, the connection between Ali and Yusuf is complex.

Being brothers, they obviously have strong feelings for each other. At the same time, there are some problematic issues related to their close bond as Ali is not able to marry his beloved Nada because of Yusuf’s oddness. Nadas father is against this love as he considers Yusuf dangerous and strange. The idea of their marriage makes him laugh “He was laughing at me, her pig of a father. And Nada just sat there, her eyes making love to the carpet” (Zuabi 7).

In such a way, we can see that these two conflicts are interconnected and impact each other. The opposition between Nadas father and Ali stipulates the deterioration of relations between brothers who still remain close to each other; however, Ali perfectly realizes the primary cause of this refusal and is not able to control his feelings. He beats Yusuf and makes him cry “When my brother hit me, he always had a reason…I tried to focus my ideas…ignore the pain” (Zuabi 7). Ali is in despair; at the same time, he can do nothing because of his brother Yusuf, who also realizes the fact that he deprives his brother of any opportunity to get married ” Stop it, don’t hit me, be sorry for me, I’ll change!” (Zuabi 7). However, they perfectly realize that nothing could be done.

Ali and Nadas Father

The given situation is not the only example demonstrating how one conflict impacts another and their interdependence. As it has already been stated, Ali and Nadas father have problematic relations preconditioned by the young peoples desire to get married. The given conflict is one of the central ones in the story, and it is obvious that the author supports it with meaningful events. Nadas father is shot because of villagers belief that he is a collaborator (Zuabi 31). He dies and stipulates the further development of the opposition with Ali who is now considered a murderer. He has the motif and obviously wants to kill Nadas father.

In such a way, the initial conflict between these two men resulted in the appearance of a new problematic issue. By using this approach, the author apparently wants to show the interdependence of all actions in the given community and emphasize the fact that all villagers destinies are closely connected. One action triggers another one and promotes the appearance of diverse alterations in the existing setting.

Ali and Nada

Finally, there is another conflict that is mentioned in the play. The author provides a powerful description of the quarrel between Ali and Nada triggered by her fathers murder. A young woman does not know who is the killer and suffers from it. Additionally, she knows that many people blame Ali and consider him responsible for this crime. That is why she is not able to trust him and go with him “I can’t. Not with you.

Not until you tell me who killed my father. My brothers say you killed him…because of me. So I killed him. That’s what they say. If we run away we make it true…” (Zuabi 37). In such a way, one conflict gives rise to another and results in the significant alterations of relations between protagonists. Blaming herself for her fathers death, Nada alters as she is cannot live with this burden. Additionally, her trust in Ali is corrupted.


Altogether, while reading the play, we can observe the emergence of numerous conflicts. The author introduces them to depict the life of people placed in the complex setting deteriorated by war, civil issues, and other sophisticated concerns. A reader can see how big global conflicts like the opposition between the UN and Palestine promote the appearance of discrepancies between villagers in their perspectives on the future.

At the same time, difficult relations between Ali and Nadas father complicated by social upheaval and specific attitude to Yusuf result in the rise of distrust between two young people. Introducing these conflicts the author manages to the needed effect as he depicts a complete image of events that took place at that period and shows how people responded to them.

Works Cited

Ali, Sherif. ““. Academia.edu. Web.

Billington, Michael. ““. The Guardian. 2010. Web.

McCarthy, Rory. ““. The Guardian. 2010. Web.

Zuabi, Amir Nizar. “I am Yusuf and this is My Brother”. WordPress.com. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "“I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother” Play by Zubi." May 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/i-am-yusuf-and-this-is-my-brother-play-by-zubi/.


IvyPanda. "“I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother” Play by Zubi." May 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/i-am-yusuf-and-this-is-my-brother-play-by-zubi/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "“I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother” Play by Zubi." May 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/i-am-yusuf-and-this-is-my-brother-play-by-zubi/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '“I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother” Play by Zubi'. 9 May.

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