Themes Of Captivity And Power In Woman At Point Zero By Nawal Saadawi
Woman at Point Zero, written by Nawal Saadawi, displays the average woman confined in an primarily patriarchal society and the struggles that come from living every day in this world. Nawal Saadawi is not only the founder and president of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights, but also a physician, author, feminist and psychiatrist. Her novel follows a psychiatrist El Saadawi, who is conflicted with the role of women in society during 1970s Egypt, as she learns the story of Firdaus, a woman who is in a constant struggle to learn her place in society as a woman, a companion and a person. Three important themes that are occurring within the novel are captivity, power and the effects of these two components on a human being mentally, physically and emotionally.
Captivity is defined as the condition of being imprisoned or confined. This suffocating feeling of being “jailed” is a main underlying theme throughout El Saadawi, Firdaus, and various other events. Firdaus became a primary symbol to fully develop the theme of captivity. She is a symbol of oppression, vulnerability and imprisonment. Firdaus never truly had a free choice for herself within her childhood or adulthood as she was exploited by every single man she encountered. Saadawi goes on to detail the power of imprisonment as she says, “All women are victims of deception. Men impose deception on women and punish them for being deceived, force them down to the lowest level and punish them for falling so low, bind them in marriage and then chastise them with menial service for life, or insults, or blows.” In this quote, Saadawi symbolizes the deception and raw truth of those women whose only true possession is their mind and body. She goes on to say, “How many were the years of my life that went by before my body, and my self became really mine, to do with them as I wished? How many were the years of my life that were lost before I tore my body and my self away from the people who held me in their grasp since the very first day?”. Saadawi, however, ties woman’s captivity and the concept of power in a tremendous way.
El Saadawi, in the beginning, exudes the tone of simple innocence. As she indulges into the story of a woman who is on death row for killing a pimp, the tone slowly changes to cunning, shock, pain, fear and anger. These tones and changes within the story are just one symbol of the importance of power. Aside from the change of tones, several men in the story display power from Firdaus’ father, Firdaus’ uncle, her childhood love, her husband, the man Firdaus comes to fall in love with, and even men who watch from the street. In this hunger for power, it seems that women are being left as solely an object who is worth less than half of a man’s worth. This power that all men seemed to possess over women are all rooted to a common idea of sex and money, which are two symbols of power.. In the novel, Saadawi writes, “I discovered that all these rulers were men. What they had in common was an avaricious and distorted personality, a never-ending appetite for money, sex and unlimited power”. This is also detailed during Fidraus’ female gential mutilation, where she was ruthlessly given a clitoridectomy without her consent in order to remove the desire of sexual pleasure and power from her. Firdaus reflects as she says, “It was as if I could no longer recall the exact spot from which it used to arise, or as though a part of me, of my being, was gone and would never return” These two important themes, power and captivity, give a whole new meaning to the story as they affect the characters.
The combination of power and captivity makes a huge impact not only on the story but also on the characters. Firdaus’s passion for herself was fueled by the dark world she lived in. This burning fire within her soul, caused by her past, created a new Firdaus. Despite the mental, physical and emotional destruction, Firdaus overcame her feeling of helplessness with the help of Sharifa, a high class prostitute. Through lack of power and captivity, Firdaus searched endlessly and discovered a sense of strength within her. Although this does not completely allow her to be free, this does allow her to gain a taste of individuality. In the end, Firdaus is imprisoned in a cell for killing a pimp. Despite home in a cell, she felt like she was not powerless or captive. Firdaus decides to escape her cruel imprisonment in the only way the patriarchal society had allowed her to. Her decision to avoid appeals and help from doctors gave her a sense of power. This sweet relief that has been tragically bestowed upon her is death. Through the promise of death, Firdaus feels free as this is her life that she is controlling. She displays her fierce determination for her rights as she begins to speak to Saadawi,“Let me speak. Do not interrupt me. I have no time to listen to you”. Her death is a symbol of pure free recreation of oneself. Thus, describes the true depth and impact that power and captivity has on a human.
Three important themes that occur within Woman at Point Zero are captivity, power and the effects of these two components on a human being mentally, physically and emotionally. Written by Nawai Saadawi, she goes into the patriarchal society that the average woman lives in. This novel displays the confinement and struggles of 1970s Egypt. Saadawi details the several men, from Firdaus’ father, Firdaus’ uncle, her childhood love, her husband, the man Firdaus comes to fall in love with, and even men who watch from the street, who over power and trap her into being less than her potential. Through her fierce determination, Firdaus overcomes her setbacks and finds her own light through the darkness.
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