Structure

Title

The title of Hanif Kureishi’s short story “Weddings and Beheadings” immediately captures the reader’s attention, because of the stark contrast between the two terms. A wedding symbolizes a new beginning, while a beheading indicates an ending. Moreover, a wedding is about joining two people together, whereas a beheading involves dividing one person into two parts (head and body). The stark contrast between the two words is emphasized by the fact that they rhyme, which helps to bring together two opposing ideas which would not normally be considered in the same context. The title has the effect of intriguing readers and making them curious about why two such contradictory terms have been joined together.

As we read the story, we find out the meaning of the title and how the two words are connected. The narrator is a cameraman, somewhere in the Middle East. The location is not explicitly specified, but it is implied through the events in the story, as well as through the way the narrator describes the town he lives in as a “war-broken city”. Due to the situation in his country, the narrator is forced to go to executions and film them, although it is not something he has ever wanted to do, just as he has never wanted to film weddings, either. This helps to explain the title: people often hire film makers to record important events in their lives, such as weddings, and the narrator has been employed doing this type of work, even though he’d rather be making real feature films. However, the irony is that beheadings are more common ‘life events’ than weddings in the narrator’s town these days, so filming these events make up t...

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