e-ISSN 2231-8534
ISSN 0128-7702

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Hoda Barakat’s Tiller of the Waters and The Stone of Laughter: A Reflection on Gender and Sexism in Times of Wars

Fatma H. Taher

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 21, Issue S, November 2013

Keywords: Arabic literature. gender, homosexuality, sexism, war, women authors

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This paper aims at examining Hoda Barakat’s exploration of the civil war in Lebanon and its effect on the self, the memory, and masculinity of the common man. Unlike War Literature, neither of the two novels at hand examines the sectarian division, or who to blame; it is rather the drama of the individual that shapes the two books. War here is shown to affect man’s acceptance and understanding of himself, as much as of his country. Barakat willingly estranges herself and her protagonist to delve deep into the past and scrutinize the marginalized self. The different perspective, the new tone, as well as the wisdom gained through years of exposure to dangers, enable Barakat to probe into the disturbed self of the protagonist where she tries to replicate his suffering and sense of loss. Essentially written in Arabic, the two novels reveal the desolate condition of the protagonist and the city as a microcosm of the devastating state of the Arabs; peoples and countries. The emasculated protagonist stands both as a reflection of the defenseless, powerless, unmotivated Arabs, and an opposition to the over masculinized, enraged and therefore, aggressive Arabs who want a change of the status quo, no matter how destructive, or even how efficient. Hence the paper discusses issues that are “routinely forgotten and swept under the rug”, an examination that highlights the Arab intellectuals’ apprehension with all the tribulations of their communities.

ISSN 0128-7702

e-ISSN 2231-8534

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