African Liberation Reader: Documents of the National by Aquino De Braganca, Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein

By Aquino De Braganca, Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein

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Extra info for African Liberation Reader: Documents of the National Liberation Movements :Volume 2 The National Liberation Movements

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And certainly Salim’s sudden departure, his accidental death at the hands of Lella’s irrationally jealous husband, and her subsequent return to her family, leave her stripped of her whimsical ideals. Nevertheless, the reader of Les Impatients is left with a sense of uncertainty regarding Djebar’s stance towards the possibility of feminine resistance. While normative social conventions are clearly the focus of Djebar’s critique, it remains unclear to what extent Dalila might have been lulled into a disturbingly passive acceptance of her family duty, and to what extent she has succeeded in achieving self-knowledge.

Similarly, in her initial meetings with Salim, Dalila relishes her departure from social constraints and notes the natural spontaneity of their connection. Recalling that she is from a bourgeois Muslim background, she nevertheless finds that her interaction with Salim is unselfconscious, and she takes pleasure in knowing that her clandestine meetings with him fly in the face of convention. Dalila also shuns her friend Mina’s women’s gatherings, expressing her lack of interest in ‘ces questions qui passionaient les jeunes lycéennes et étudiantes: problème de l’évolution de la femme musulmane, problème du mariage mixte, problème des responsabilités sociales de la femme, problème…’14 Detaching herself from the Islamic women’s community, Dalila scorns those wives, such as Zineb, who are controlled by their husbands and criticises not only patriarchal authority but also women’s complicity in the structures that restrict them.

Before moving on to discuss the representation of women in the body of the novel, however, it is worth dwelling on the male narrator’s own sense of unease as he recalls his activities in the maquis. In this sense, the initial impetus of the writing is the occlusion effected by colonial power rather than patriarchy, and Djebar analyses an Algerian male perspective on the trauma of resistance and the halting process of reinvention before returning again to the question of femininity. Descriptions of meetings and events in the present, then, are frequently and intermittently interspersed with images of significant moments from Omar’s past, and he seems on one level to want to hold on to these memories, to mark their importance and to incorporate them into a meaningful narrative of progress.

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