Research Article

Representations of Death in Rawi Hage’s Beirut Hellfire Society


  • Ashraf Abu Fares PhD Candidate, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan
  • Indrani Borgohain PhD Candidate, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan


The aim of this paper is to explore the representations of death in Beirut Hellfire Society, a novel written by the Lebanese author, Rawi Hage, and published in 2018. The novel indulges in immoral and varied casts like the de-romanticizing subjects in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian which help illustrate the realities of life during wartime. All the characters portrayed in Beirut Hellfire Society are colorful and complicated vignettes. They span the four seasons following the death of Pavlov’s father, who is killed in a bomb explosion when he is in the middle of digging a grave. In this novel, Hage portrays the dilemma that people faced during the Lebanese civil war and the meaninglessness of death. He deliberately presents a striking description of death that overflows in the city of Beirut throughout the civil war and links it to a myriad of aspects associated to it; mourning, burials, funeral dancing, lunacy, a sense of humor and jokes regarding death, and above all, cremation, to personify the abundant death and destruction that pervaded Beirut on that period of Lebanon’s history with its utmost horrible and devastating face. Pavlov, a twenty years old undertaker, and his father are extraordinary characters and members of the “Hellfire Society,” a secretive organization of infidels, hedonists, idolaters, in which the members cremate people at their own request. Hellfire Society is a mysterious, rebellious and anti-religious sect that arranges secret burial for those who have been denied it because the deceased was a homosexual, an atheist, and an outcast or abandoned by their family, church and state. With death front and centre, Rawi Hage’s Beirut Hellfire Society is a treatise on living with war. In short, it is a novel that practically defines iconoclasm and registers the horrible, prevalent, and immeasurable shocking death that ensues as a real consequence of war and its atrocities.

Article information


International Journal of English Language Studies

Volume (Issue)

2 (4)





How to Cite

Abu Fares, A. ., & Borgohain, I. . (2020). Representations of Death in Rawi Hage’s Beirut Hellfire Society. International Journal of English Language Studies, 2(4), 47–59.



Hellfire Society, Rawi Hage, death, Beirut, Civil War, cremation, fire, Lebanese