Lesson 4: The Consequences of My Actions
About this Lesson:
In this lesson, students will witness the pressures that family obligations can place on an individual and the impact of those responsibilities on the lives of various individuals. Through the film Ajami (Israel, 2009), students will consider the advantages of the Arab family network as well as the challenges. They will observe the main characters of the film take extreme measures and make what may seem like poor decisions due to their family obligations. Students will consider the impact of family obligation on the lives of various family members. Depending on the length of your classes, teachers will likely have to show the film in segments. Due to the complexity of the film, it is recommended that after viewing and discussing the entire film, teachers show segments of the film indicated below to examine specific examples of family obligation.
About Ajami (Israel, 2009):
Omar, a young man from Jaffa, is forced to sell drugs to pay off a blood debt incurred by his uncle. Malek, an illegally employed Palestinian youth, joins him to help cover his mother’s medical expenses. The scenes unfold in both Arabic and Hebrew, which adds to the confusion for Malek, who lives in the Palestinian territories and does not speak Hebrew. Though the film is tragic and set against a backdrop of violence, students will see the protection and tender love offered by Arab families.
150-200 minutes (3-4 class periods)
In this lesson, students will:
- watch and discuss Ajami (Israel, 2009), directed by Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti.
- write two short essays reflecting on the film.
- Family is the central social and economic structure in Arab society and kinship stands at the root of social, economic and political decision-making.
- Relations of kin serve as the primary affiliation, resource and responsibility for individuals in the Arab world.
- The Arab family structure, extending well beyond the nuclear family, supports and protects its members by prioritizing family unity and well being above other obligations.
- Decisions, actions and behaviors of individuals can have a real and critical impact on the family.
Curriculum Framing Questions
- What is the role and function of family in Arab culture?
- What aspects of an individual’s identity determine their role in the family?
- What can we learn about the Arab world from the depiction of families in film and literature?
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- identify the responsibilities of family members to their immediate and extended family.
- infer how these responsibilities could play out positively or negatively under different conditions.
Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:
- Respond to homework questions
Curriculum Standards Information
Speaking and Listening
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3 Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
Speaking and Listening
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Materials Needed in Class:
Ajami note sheet
Click here to download PDF version
Recommended viewing segmentation:
Day 1: Watch Ajami from start to 0:47:25
Day 2 : Watch Ajami from 0:47:25-1:36:20
Day 3: Complete Ajami 1:36:20- end (28 minutes)
Homework for Days 1 & 2: Assign students to choose one decision they took notes on and write a short essay explaining the connection between the decision and the family situation of the decision maker. Students should include a personal reflection on the incident.
On Day 3, when students have completed the film, lead a discussion based on the notes students took in class. Ask students to share their thoughts on the positive and negative outcomes of family relationships as they were depicted in the film. Were there more positive or negative associations with family? If time allows, focus on the following question:
- How do family relationships push the plot in Ajami forward?
- What other factors contribute to the actions and decisions of the characters?
The above question may also be used as a writing prompt for homework
Rewatch the introduction to Ajami and discuss the following:
- Who from Nasri’s family is introduced in the opening scenes of Ajami?
- How are their roles and responsibilities to each other apparent in these first scenes?
Rewatch the conversation between Omar and Abu Elias (11:27-12:38) and discuss the following:
- What factors go into Omar’s role in his family?
- How does he explain his situation?
- What do both characters take for granted about the way kinship binds people?
Rewatch the scene in which Omar tricks Hadir into thinking he has come to ask for her hand (14:45) and discuss the following:
- What does he say or do that gives her the impression?
- According to this scene, who is traditionally involved in proposing marriage ?