Women in Afghanistan: The Ambivalence of the Prison in Nadia Hashimi’s A House without Windows
“A house without windows” literally translates to a prison. Nadia Hashimi’s novel A House without Windows (2016) personifies Afghan women’s lives as prisoners in their own bodies while also dialogically situating their stories inside a prison–Chil Mahtab. This article focuses on the semiotic relationship between the spatial prison of Chil Mahtab and the temporal prison that women live in under the hegemony of men. The violated bodies of characters like “the little girl” carry the burden of patriarchal injustices in Afghanistan. And the horrifying stories of being rejected by male institutions, particularly the law, paint a picture of Afghan society and gender-based violence for the readers. This article studies the personified liberation of women in Chil Mehtab. When confined within an actual prison due to the hegemonic dictates of societal law, women, as victims of injustice, seek liberation within the prison alongside other women. The prison gains more significance in the text when it offers the space for women to create symbiotic bonds. The prisoners of Chil Mehtab feel belonging to a safe haven called home, repudiating their patriarchal house-of-a-man who owns them as a master. All these women, when sharing their tales, do not merely coexist but grow together. In this article, I argue that the prison is a vibrant space of both resistance and liberation at once. I also examine the silence maintained by Afghan women outside of the prison as a means of control over their voices. Silence thus becomes an active resistance rather than a passive resignation in the novel. In this article, I study the exigencies of a female writer fighting against patriarchal discourses and phallogocentricity through gynocriticism.
"Women in Afghanistan: The Ambivalence of the Prison in Nadia Hashimi’s A House without Windows,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
6, Article 17.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss6/17