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Gender Roles And Ideas Essay

5649 words - 23 pages

Gender Roles and Ideas

The Male Character in Arab Women’s Novels:

Often in literature authors, particularly men, are criticized for falsely or inaccurately portraying or "writing" women. This debate has been historically confined to male authors, but is on occasion reversed and female authors are criticized for inaccurately writing men. Although it may sound like a fair trade—or at least the beginnings of one in the world of critics—these situations are limited to primarily European and predominately North American literature. Examining the portrayal of men and the male sex as a whole, by women, is an important if not essential undertaking in this modern world, but where is comes to ...view middle of the document...

For purposes of ease in this discourse these short chapters will be grouped into eight natural sections, as each five or six chapters between Maha and Um Saad is set off by an interlude from The Storyteller, who himself appears nine times altogether. In this book there is a large spectrum men that Faqir writes, but in terms of relevance to the topic above we will focus on the following characters to illustrate how Faqir portrays the male sex: The Storyteller, who could be argued as not being a man, but with very little success, as it is undoubtedly Faqir’s intention to have the story’s told by The Storyteller to be from a male perspective. Also, the father and husband of Um Saad, although they are not main characters in the novel, are useful in illustrating the overall ideas that will be presented later. On Maha’s side of the story we will touch on Daffash, her brother, Maha’s father Sheik Nimer, and Harb, her once and always husband. Although there are these many different men in this novel that do well to illustrate different aspects of Faqir’s writing of the male sex, the most relevant is the character of The Storyteller, not only due to the intrigue he—and invariable Faqir—introduces in this novel, but because he provides such a universal prospective of what and how these tales may have been represented in Arab folklore. We will briefly touch on the other male characters mentioned before moving into The Storyteller alone.

Harb, Maha’s husband, who eventually dies, is the least oppressive of all the men in the novel, when dealing with women. He is, in fact, a more loving and kind person to Maha and her female friends than even other women themselves. Maha loves Harb very deeply, almost to a point of codependence, as every time she hears mentions of him she seems to be in a state of hypnosis. This is paramount in understanding the character of Harb, as about half the story is told by Maha and her internal monologue. The only other male character that stirs her heart is her father, but not in nearly as deep a manner as even the thought of Harb.

The only other man/male character that Maha shows or feels any love for is her farther, Sheik Nimer (she does love her son Mubarak very much, but as he is only a child he has no cultural bearing or direct influence over Maha in terms of the patriarchal society she lives in and the fact that he is only in the latter half of the story, so he is being set aside here). Her father is basically a good man and a tender loving father, however, he is still aware of his position as the dominant male (mostly in the earlier chapters) in Maha’s life and in his household in general, and in certain circumstances he is not on her side; Faqir reveals what a good father—in this Jordanian culture—is, as viewed by the "culture" in general (that is to say, the status quo). The character of Daffash, Maha’s brother, is a sobering one indeed. He is a serial rapist and a thief, yet, he is never jailed for either of these...

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