Honor Crimes in Sahar Khalifeh’s The Inheritance and Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock: A Comparative Study

Hussein A. Alhawamdeh


This paper examines the concept of “honor crimes” as reflected in two literary works—Sahar Khalifeh’s The Inheritance (1997/2005) and Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock (1924/2009). The female characters—Zaynab and Nahleh in Khalifeh’s The Inheritance and Mary in O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock—are maintained by the masculine discourse of honor as symbols rather than individuals to be protected and avenged by the males. Ironically, the discourse of honor is a gender-based mechanism which observes only the females’ morality and justifies the males’ violations to the cultural ethics. Even though the male characters—Mazin and Said in Khalifeh’s The Inheritance and Boyle and Johnny in O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock—show moral and ethical irresponsibility towards the financial and social assistance of their families, they view themselves as the guardians of the honor of their families. To establish a space of gender equality in which both males and females share the ethical and social liability, Khalifeh and O’Casey empower the feminine voice to question and dismantle the patriarchal hypocrisy of the discourse of honor. Khalifeh’s The Inheritance and O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock show that honor crimes, which are legitimized by cultural rather than religious definitions, are not peculiar to one culture or one region. In other words, the female characters in Khalife’s novel and O’Casey’s play negotiate their cultures rather than religions to achieve social equality.


Honor crimes; Feminism; Sahar Khalifeh; The Inheritance; Sean O’ Casey; Juno and the Paycock

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/7915


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