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Abstract

This article examines the male-female gender dichotomy in Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero. Firdaus, the woman protagonist in the novel, after a careful observation of her own life and the status of women in her patriarchal society, postulates that men are criminals and women are prostitutes. Firdaus’ dichotomy of the male and female gender into criminals and prostitutes respectively is the focus of the discussion in this article. This paper analyzes Firdaus’ life of captivity by the forces of oppression right from childhood to womanhood and eventually to prison awaiting execution for committing murder. It applies Nawal El Saadawi’s strand of feminism, particularly the theory’s main tenet of the links among patriarchy, class, and religion, to examine the systems responsible for women’s oppression. The focus is on class oppression, male hegemony, and deception. Using Frantz Fanon’s theory of violence, the article discusses Firdaus’ use of women’s liberative violence to extricate themselves from men’s captivity. Firdaus kills Marzouk, the pimp, to free herself and achieve total liberation. Consequently, her refusal to live and her fearlessness of death when sentenced to die by the Egyptian court of law symbolize her resolve to achieve freedom and dignity not in her phallocentric society but in death. In this article, I argue that the male oriented justice system criminalizes Firdaus and gives her the maximum sentence of death to permanently silence her and thwart her struggle for liberation through physical and moral attacks on the male hegemony and religious idiosyncrasy of her society.

Note on the Author

Benon Tugume holds a PhD from Makerere University. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literature, Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda. Email: btugume77@yahoo.com.

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