Analysis

The short story “Weddings and Beheadings” by Hanif Kureishi follows an unconventional, non-linear plot structure.

The main character is also the narrator, an unnamed filmmaker who is forced to film beheadings. He is described mostly through his thoughts and actions, as he appears eager to tell readers about his job and how it affects him. The events are seen through his eyes. Other characters are also mentioned, such as the narrator’s best friend, but their importance is more symbolic. This is also suggested by the fact that none of the characters are given names.  

The main physical setting is the narrator’s house. Other locations are also mentioned: his friend’s flat, or the places where the beheadings happen. The geographical location is not specified, as the narrator only tells us that the city where he lives is at war. We can work out from the events of the story that the action takes place somewhere in the Middle East in the 2000s. The social setting explores the harsh realities of war in the Middle East, and the effects it has on regular people.

The events are told by a first-person narrator, who sometimes switches to the second person to address his readers directly and give details about his job. This involves the reader in the action itself, as the reader is forced to imagine events through the eyes of the filmmaker.

The language used is informal and conversational. The narrative is mostly in the present tense, except for when the narrator is referring to a specific event a friend of his has experienced, when he uses the past tense. The choice of words is explicit, and the narrator guides the readers through the events and keeps them involved in the narrative. The narrative is also rich in symbols, as objects and characters are used to highlight the harsh situation created by the war.