Despair in Tea in the Harem and “La Haine”
The film "La Haine" and the book Tea in the Harem both take place in the suburbs of Paris, a place where brutality reigns and hope perishes. "La Haine" focuses on the lives of three young men, Vinz, Said, and Hubert, while Tea in the Harem looks closely at two men, Majid and Pat. All these characters are deeply troubled, involved in drugs and worshippers of alcohol. They are rough, prone to violence. Their lives are burdened by despair, and hopelessness guides them and those around them. In fact, both the book and the film heavily explore the theme of despair. Despair is portrayed as a ruiner as it crushes, condemns, and kills. It causes women to sell their bodies and men to turn to drink.
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When two women scream at each other in Tea in the Harem, none of the other residents care. As the author explains, “Rows of this sort were a daily event on the estate. Nobody even noticed them any more. An inevitable result of the overcrowding” (131). “La Haine” paints a similar picture. When a cop arrests Vinz in the end, he is cavalier and loose with his gun, accidentally shooting Vinz in an attempt to scare the other characters. If not for Hubert’s affection for his friend, Vinz’s death would probably go unnoticed. He would just be another dead hooligan from the banlieues. Overcrowding, then, is one of the causes of the violence in the projects of Paris. Further propagating the violence is the desire for fame and prestige. Vinz, the same character who dies by the gun, wishes to shoot a cop and go to jail for it, elevating his street credentials and reputation. When given the opportunity to kill senselessly, however, he is unable to pull the trigger, revealing that sometimes those men who cry for blood do so just to make noise. They’re barely adults anyways. In the outskirts of Paris, cops hurt citizens, and residents attack their neighbors, but not just for retaliation or glory. Domestic violence, devoid of any honor, is widespread and rampant. It’s egged on by the pervasive abuse of substances. Tea in the Harem especially examines Levesque, a neighbor of Majid. Levesque frequently and brutally beats his wife, especially after