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“The Telephone” by Anwar Accawi Essay

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Updated: Oct 14th, 2021

“The Telephone” was written by Mr. Anwar Accawi as a journal of how his simple, if not primitive village of Magdalena, Southern Lebanon was changed forever by the arrival of the telephone. Before the telephone arrived, their people were a naive group who was satisfied with what their village life had to offer them and gave much attention to the events that happen around them in a way much different from the modern world does.

In this little village, time is practically irrelevant and numbers are not necessary for storytelling or record keeping. According to Mr. Accawi,” there was no real need for a calendar or a watch to keep track of the hours, days, months, and years.” Being a satisfied group of people and with no influence from the outside world, there was no need for them to seek more than they actually had. However, when the telephone came to the village, everyone began to change. This intruder into the village life caused major changes in the town and its people, sometimes for the better, other times, for the worse. Through this paper, I hope to clearly present my belief regarding the intrusion of modern amenities into simple life as being a destruction of a culture rather than an improvement of life for the people.

We are all born into various cultures and traditions that help shape who we are as a person. The events that happen in the past allow us a peek into the overall development of society. This is done in various ways by different cultures. For the people of Magdalena, this is done through the most ancient way of record keeping. Cultural traditions and beliefs are deeply integrated into the daily life of the people thus allowing for a live record keeping of the culture.

Storytelling is the most primitive but most effective way of preserving a cultural past. This can clearly be seen in the story with the essay that answered the question “How old is Teta I’m Khalil?” The answer was long-winded and not really a direct answer but, served to impart and keep an important social event alive in the next generation’s minds. The answer was that Teta was ” born shortly after the big snow that caused the roof of the mayor’s house to cave in.”

I know, it does not sound like a real answer, and maybe it isn’t. But it allowed an important story to be told and handed down to the next generation. Such was the simplistic way of life for this culture, age did not matter as much as the natural disasters or events that changed the face of their society. These little changes, natural changes did not serve to change much in the way their life was led. Such a change was acceptable to their culture and traditions because it allowed them to keep their old way of life alive although the mayor probably needed a new house.

It is that simplistic way of life that made living in Magdalena special. Each person knew exactly what there was to know about the other person and it allowed for a close relationship between people that did not recognize any outside interference. It made me sad to realize, as I read the essay that progress had to come to their little town and change the way their lives were lead. How it is true that “Change in the name of progress” is something that cannot be avoided and usually results in the drifting away of a once closely-knit social culture.

Indeed, the arrival of the telephone was something of an exciting event for them, as it is for most people from any culture or society. The gathering of the townsfolk to watch its installation showed me that this was a culture that was closely knit and knew how to share in the joy of one another, making it their own. Sadly, the telephone that brought them together as a town was also the thing that tore them away from each other eventually.

A passage from the essay shows how something like the telephone, which was supposed to be a good thing, turned out to be a bad thing. ” with its coming the face of the village began to change. One of its first effects was the shifting of the village center.” This is something that usually happens when something of an improvement happens in any situation. The way of life changes overnight due to excitement from the townsfolk, and eventually, becomes a permanent change in the way of life because it becomes easier to do than what they were normally accustomed to. In this case, information dissemination became more accurate and widespread. The coming of the telephone removed the plastic bubble from the town of Magdalena and opened it up to the world beyond its borders.

As I finished reading the essay, I came to realize that change is inevitable. It will always happen and sometimes, not very subtly. Changes are exciting for anyone, but without knowing how that change will actually affect the lives of people involved. In Magdalena, it made the people grow apart and divided the society between old and new. Such situations will demand and will find a middle ground that will allow the two to co-exists in a way. A change will always be seen as drastic no matter how little and slow it is done and in the end, it will change the lives of everyone and the face of a once closed-off culture to the world.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""The Telephone" by Anwar Accawi." October 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-telephone-by-anwar-accawi/.

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