Monday, January 26, 2009

Lawrence of Arabia: 85-question study guide

Trudeau’s Study Guide to Lawrence of Arabia
A Basis for Testing, Discussion and Essays on the biographical movie.

Please answer questions as brief notes and use as a framework for each viewing.

This true story is based on books TE Lawrence wrote after the Arab campaigns. He won acclaim for his chronicle of war and politics, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

1) Movie director David Lean insists that the musical themes be heard by the audience over a black screen. He felt the composer’s score was classic.
2) The movie opens in England, 1935. Enjoy the brief but loving camera attention to a fine British motorcycle. L wrecks and is mortally injured.
Discuss motorcycles (Triumph, BSA, etc) as a symbol of British success in the Industrial Revolution.
3) The Lawrence funeral service is in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, a burial place reserved for national heroes. Remarks heard in the crowd: L. was a complex fellow and not a perfect hero.
4) Cairo, Cartography department, British Army, about 1914. In several ways L. stands out from the soldiers with which he is serving. Explain. What is cartography?
L. is well-educated, speaks French and Arabic. Cartography: mapmaking.
5) What are the dates of WWI? Name the nations aligned with the British. Name the countries working with the Germans.
1914 - 1918; US enters war in 1917. Brits and French vs. Germans and Austria.
6) Vocab: overweening, dossier, Oxfordshire.
7) What language has L. studied in addition to his mother tongue and French? Arabic.
8) In Arabia there is a conflict between the nomadic, tribal Bedouin peoples and the Turks, rulers of the Turkish Ottoman Empire - which includes Arabia. Who’s on the German side?
9) Is “the Officer’s Mess” a term for a carelessly kept room or the principal lounge area?
10) Arabian tribes are led by the wise, if weary, Prince Feisal of Mecca (see Faisal today).
11) What is the attitude of L’s desert guide toward the British officer’s pistol carried by L.? How does L. use the pistol in making his way amongst the Bedouins?
12) The Arabic word for canyon, usually a dry, rocky area between mesas, is “wadi.” The wadi is where Arabs have typically made their settlements.
What do the existence of these stone canyons say about the ancient geography of this region?
13) The Harish versus the Hazimi: is murderous tribal warfare a historic part of life in the vast desert? Are there such conflicts today?
14) What kind of vessel is used to bring up water from the deep well in the desert? Goat skin.
15) Translate "Peace be with you” into Arabic.
16) L. sings a WWI era ditty called “The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.” Where is Monte Carlo? In gambling, what does it mean to “break the bank”?

17) A Britishism for being posted to a unit is “seconded.”
18) What is meant by the term biplane?
19) Where did the Turks get airplanes? Not “at the store.”
20) What sound can Arabs seem not to be able to pronounce?
21) In the caravan some camels are surmounted by small, square tent enclosures. Who is in such a tent?

22) “Recite, then, as much of the __ as may be easy for you ... and seek ye the forgiveness of God. Verily, God is forgiving, merciful ...” These are the opening words of the Holy Qu’ran. The scene in Feisel’s tent is unusually respectful of Muslims. Why do I say “unusually”?
23) Lawrence quotes the Quran. How would he know such material?
24) In 1915 the top British priority in the Mid East was protection of a waterway important to their shipping and movement of warships. What is the name of this key passage, which connects the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean?
25) In explaining to Feisel the reason for Britain’s worldwide power the British officer puts an emphasis on ... a) technology b) discipline c) skill d) wealth.
26) In the early 1900’s the city at the center of Islamic art, business and scholarship was not Mecca, nor Cairo. It was the capital of Syria:
a) Medina b) Damascus c) Jerusalem .
27) According to Feisel, do Arabs love the desert? If not, what do they love?
28) Feisel refers to the Islamic golden age. About what century did it occur? According to, it lasted from about 750 to 1050 AD.
29) At the desert’s edge Lawrence spends a night concentrating on the Arab dilemma in their feckless fight against the Turks. He has a breakthrough. What is his solution?
30) A terrible desert’s difficulties must be surmounted by the Bedouin.
The desert is the a. Sahara b. Rub al kali c. Arezy an Nefud.
31) “The Howeitat are brigands.” Write a synonym for brigand.
32) What 3 nations has Lawrence visited thus far?
33) Can a man claiming to perform a miracle be judged guilty of blasphemy? Why or why not? By definition, miracles are created by __.
34) The boys who become Lawrence’s servants are unsuitable, he is told, because they are “outcast and parentless.” What would we call them?
35) What is a shilling?
36) “Allah favors the compassionate.” Offer a synonym for compassionate.
37) During the desert crossing Lawrence makes a point of use precious water for shaving. Why does he insist on shaving?
38) Which character has 2 African bodyguards? Is that a realistic note or an exaggeration?
39) In sh’Allah is a frequent interjection and means: a. If God is willing. b. God be with you. c. I believe in God. d. God is merciful.
40) Gasim the Bedouin falls off his camel and is lost in the desert during the night.
Why does Lawrence stubbornly insist on going back to try to find him?

41) In the desert the Bedouins find a place surrounded by trees where their camels can drink. It is called an __ . What kind of trees are those? __ __ .
42) An argument about the role of fate is waged between Lawrence and the Arabs.
The Englishman’s key phrase is “Nothing is __.”
43) Lawrence’s father, he explains, is Sir Thomas Chapman. What is the parent-based problem?
44) Lawrence is awarded the robes of a tribesman for his valorous service. Describe him as he faces the wearing of foreign clothing.
45) After some tricky negotiations Auda Abu Talib of the Howeitat says “Dine with me in __ Ruum!”

46) The camel driver’s stick is often used for another purpose. Describe.
47) Auda Abu Talib says “’The Arabs,’ What tribe is that?” What does he imply?
48) What is a guinea?
49) What city will be attacked by the combined tribes in a surprise raid? It lies on what body of water?
50) When the troops leave the wadi, the women watching them emit a high-pitched scream as encouragement. What is that called? a. ovulation b. ululation c. trepidation d. insubordination.
51) “The law says the man must die.” This is based on a code associated with a historic leader of Mesopotamia. a) Cyrus b) Hammurabi c) Darius.
52) In the tribal dispute - which almost begins a blood feud - who is the condemned murderer? Who is the executioner? What irony is there?
53) The Turks at Aqaba outnumber and outgun the Arabs but the Bedouin raiders are successful. What is their great advantage?
54) Lawrence declares he will cross the badlands of the Sinai Peninsula. Where is he going?
55) The servant boy Daud dies in the desert in a most unexpected way. What is it?
56) When a camel lies down, which set of legs folds first?
57) The spooky, abandoned buildings encountered on the edge of the Sinai actually lie beside the __ __ .
58) “Bringing a ‘wog’ into the Officer’s Mess” is offensive to many soldiers. Explain.
59) “Undisciplined, unpunctual, untidy; knowledge of languages, music, literature, etc.” Who is being described?
60) In WWI the British attacked the Turkish-held Mid East and drove the Turks from the holy city of __.
61) “You acted without orders.”
“Shouldn’t an officer use their initiative at all times?” Explain.
62) Lawrence leads Bedouin riders in swift attacks on the Turks that depend on surprise for success. Today that’s called __ warfare (French word).
63) The Bedouins are wary of being partners with the British. They believe that the British are thinking, “Let the Arabs drive out the Turks, then we’ll take over.”
T / F
64) Intermission is another opportunity for the director to air his score over a dark screen. What does this imply?
65) The American reporter called Bentley in the movie is another true element in the Lawrence story. The journalist’s real name is Lowell Thomas. What happens as a result of Bentley’s stories and photos?
66) Lawrence uses his expertise in explosives against the Turkish __.
67) What is the Geneva Code? a) guidelines for humane treatment of prisoners during war. b) a secret system used by the people of Switzerland.
68) What happens to the Bedouin army after the looting of Turkish trains?
69) Why does Lawrence shoot and kill his servant and friend Farraj?
70) Lawrence allows himself to be captured by the Turks in Deraa. Why?

71) Is there such a thing as a fair-haired, blue-eyed person of Middle Eastern blood?
Is a Circassian the same as a Caucasian?
72) Write a brief description of the location of the Caucasian Mountains.
73) On the eve of the battle for Jerusalem Lawrence has a breakdown. What action does he take?
74) The Sykes-Picot Treaty is an agreement at the end of WWI that proclaims that 2 nations will divide the control of the Middle East. Which European nations took over the defeated Turkish Empire?
75) Is Lawrence guilty of having told the Bedouins “half lies” about their future and control of their ancient lands? Was he guilty of naiveté?
76) What happened to Lawrence while being held by the Turks in Deraa?
77) On the eve of the attack on the Turks in Damascus, people notice that Lawrence is a changed man. Describe his attitude.
78) Lawrence’s personal troops are hired soldiers. The word for commercial soldiers is __.
79) General Allenby is chauffeured in what brand of British auto?
80) Who wins the race to conquer the Turks in Damascus? a) the Arabs b) the British.
81) The tribal people form a government in Damascus. It is called the __ National Council.
82) The Arab armies prove incapable of governing Damascus. What governance factors flummox the Arabs?
83) The Arab tribal leaders leave Damascus and return to their homes in __.
84) What factor in British life is repulsive to Lawrence in his return to Britain?
85) Lawrence did not want to be famous as a successful soldier. His desire was to be recognized as a significant writer. Did he reach his goal?
86) At what age does Lawrence die?

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