The pivotal theme of isolation and alienation from mankind highlights Firdaus’s indifference, even disdain towards human society. Firdaus’s bold opening statement has lucratively proven a unique outlook of Firdaus’s life “Let me speak. Do not interrupt me. ” (1) The rigorously crafted manipulation of short sentences not solely fastens the pace of the extract, yet conjointly builds up the chronological train of thought throughout the extract. The passage begins with short sentences, that sets the scene for Firdaus’s imminent recognition, conjuring up an anticipated environment.
It ends with much lengthier and irregular sentences, this reordering of syntax echoes the unexpectedness of the events that shall proceed, enhancing Firdaus’s emotions. The suspense is further heightened by the imperatival, abrupt and blunt deliverance by Firdaus, thus highlighting her stern and steely character, which in turn enables the readers to grasp the pragmatic explanations for her actions. The attention-grabbing opener foretells an utmost tragic endeavours and ending that shall follow. Firdaus as an exponent of solipsism; she solely has faith her own being and does not concedes to alternative beliefs.
She is not unnerved with the existence of another, aside from her own, and will go to embark on great lengths to attain her goal, even death. “Tomorrow morning I shall no longer be here. Nor will I be in any place known to man”, this line highlights Firdaus’s key characteristic; she revels in alienation and isolation. Firdaus is further portrayed as an existentialist, drawing a powerful juxtaposition against the regal allusions of the passages before. “All my life I have been searching for something that would fill me with pride… including kings, princes and rulers”, however rather “a prostitute. Not only does the “kings, princes and rulers” metaphorically juxtaposes with the “prostitute”, enhancing the dramatic transfiguration in Firdaus’s mental state, the repetition of the triplet “kings, princes and rulers”, symbolic for sovereignty, is replaced by “dark”, reflecting that, the influence of the regal allusion of Firdaus as creator and king, shall never occur. This strategic technique emphasises that Firdaus is relieved of any social binding; she is liberated to act as a king or an animal.
As an existentialist, she is in a position to accomplish anything, so it poses as no surprise readers that she is capable of death. This time of seclusion proves to be highly consequential towards Firdaus’s maturation, furthermore, this structural technique is proof that Firdaus’s existence is extremely logical, rational and planned, so her death did not occur by coincidence. The animalistic images of Firdaus’s brutal behaviors enhance her lack of human conscience that formulates her distinctive mission and purpose.
Simultaneously, El Saadawi juxtaposes Firdaus’s lack of morality against her very human desires, “a piece of newspaper which I needed for covering the kitchen shelves”. The complex and contradictory concept convinces the readers that Firdaus is animalistic, yet, she is very much human enough for readers to connect with, upholding inquisitiveness within the passage. “I spat [on the newspaper], and then left the spit where it was to dry. ” A metaphorical imagery of a predator aiming for its prey, no different to Firdaus imminent mission. This metaphorical pulchritude of the cruelties that Firdaus enacts, conflicts with human virtue.
The strong juxtaposition accentuates Firdaus’s apathy towards human culture. This unanticipated change in tone and atmosphere suggests Firdaus has gained peace and tranquility through the passage, and has undergone a drastic psychological transformation in which she regconizes her true calling. “Each time I picked up a newspaper and found the picture of a man who was one of them, I would spit on it”, throughout this line, Firdaus is rendered as an indelicate, abnormal figure that has wholly repudiated the influence of human civilization.
Nonetheless within the next paragraph, “ I am just one woman…I was only a successful prostitute’’, this presents Firdaus to be rational and collected, she is not mentally disordered, yet simply extraordinarily committed to the existentialist cause. “And no matter how successful a prostitute is, she cannot get to know all the men”, this reveals Firdaus’s finding, the accent is in “no matter” and the “men” which has continually been a part of Firdaus, it was then did she perceive her existence; Firdaus’s intensification in self acquaintance, has escorted her in the direction of her distinctive mission.
This is an instant of epiphany, anagnorisis for Firdaus as she discerns her principal objective. Throughout Firdaus’s adulthood, she had hid her truth behind layers of make-up. “And because I am a prostitute, I hid my fear under layers of make-up. ” (19) The worry of letting her truth to be exposed – her standing, her needs and her past. Firdaus’s horrendous childhood experience has undoubtedly scarred her both physically and mentally. Her perpetual crave for pride and status has masked a hypocritical character in which she has allowed pretense to vershadow her frightful past. Furthermore, the triplets of, ‘kings, princes, and rulers’ not only connotes to the superior status of these characters but also hints at a juvenile dream of a youngster. The repeated analogically superior images underscore Firdaus’s unattainable lust for dignity and honour.
The accumulating suspense in the opening paragraphs prepares the readers for a most drastic pinnacle moment ahead. Diction is a crucial facet of the extract because it serves to facilitate the moving story within which Firdaus recounts. … Earth fills me pride. ” – the word ‘fills’ poses as an irony in recognizing the pivotal theme of status, it connotes to a vacant house that is essential to be replenished with the exquisiteness of life. Firdaus is well comprehended that she herself would never be accepted in society to the level of men, the hypocrisy of a feminine character is heightened through the presentation of the ‘natural and serious’ coloured lipsticks. This exemplifies Firdaus’s desire to portray a deceitful image that is well perceived by the community but not her true self.
Thus, Firdaus is pressured to embark on a lifelong journey underneath a stranger’s skin. The last two sentences are her reporting her unfeigned image – the true Firdaus, she adds in her ‘suppressed desires’ that she had never revelled in life, this compels readers to question the harrowing incidents that Firdaus has faced, preparing the readers for a most shocking forthcoming narrative. The suffering Firdaus endured throughout her years of living are prominently displayed with these two words, nonetheless as she urges her yearning and as she speaks in the gallows she speaks in tandem with her pride.
The repeatedly juxtaposing theme of men and women in emphasizing the inferiority of females in a typical Arabian society reigns throughout the passage. “And because I am a woman I have never had the courage to lift my hand. ” The repeated nature of ‘I am’ appear as though Firdaus, a typical Arabian women, is in no virtue in acclaiming the power and the status of that of men’s. The repeated triplets, “only my make-up, my hair and my expensive shoes were ‘upper class’” further accentuates the extent in which a stereotypical Arabian woman yearn for the highly valued facets in life, respect and courtesy.
The reference to superficial physical features further underlines the uncivilized and primitive society. The constant reference to the androgynous physique such as ‘eyes’, ‘lip’ and ‘hair’ carries the purpose of highlighting the shared features of both genders, thus reiterating women’s lust for gaining the equal superiority and authority as men in society. The prevailing theme of impartiality combined with the regurgitations of superlatives, ‘most expensive’ and ‘best’, act as a flowing commentary in criticizing a typical political situation of an Arabian society.
El Saadawi appointed an intensive melange of literary devices, to construct an utmost authentic account of Firdaus’s traumatic and injurious lifetime and greatly anticipated moment of epiphany. The deep and dramatic along with the intricate application of stylistic devices gripped the readers. El Saadawi can claim triumph in convincing me of Firdaus’s transformation. I genuinely felt that she was human, and I felt for her.
Ironically enough, El Saadawi is comparing her to animalistic behaviors, nonetheless I had a most conflicting emotion, forming a special bond between Firdaus and the readers. Personally, I believe the passage is a realisation, for Firdaus and me. Firdaus finally uncovered the aim in life, whereas I regconized Firdaus to be more than just another woman; she is a woman on a peculiar quest. The start of the novel is undoubtedly remarkably compelling in establishing Firdaus’s life and low standing, thus establishing the precise atmosphere for a utmost agonizing tale.