Perspectives That Change with Age

Published: 2021-06-29 06:38:44
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Category: English

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Nawal al-Saadawi and Layla al-Uthman have each written a story about female sexuality. They both observe the female at two different and pivotal points in their lives. In al-Saadawi's "The Picture," the thirteen-year-old Narjis discovers that she has buttocks after observing them on the young servant girl, Nabawiyya, who Narjis later sees her father raping. Narjis is fascinated with this new concept as she struggles to look at her own. As a young girl, Narjis holds her father in high regard and "She carried her head proudly as she walked beside him on the street" (al-Saadawi 62). Her perspective changes when Narjis witnesses her father raping Nabawiyya. She loses her fascination of him and is scared. When Narjis sees her father's picture again, "...she almost pulled down her dress to cover herself. But her arms didn't move, and she kept staring at her father's face without bowing her head" (al-Saadawi 64).
Layla al-Uthman's story is also entitled "The Picture." This story is from the perspective of a confused woman having her mid-life crisis. The forty-five year old unnamed narrator also observes herself in the mirror. Unlike Narjis, this woman's qualities are fading. She points out the wrinkling skin around her eyes. This realization of her aging body sparked this idea of an adventure in order to "bring back feelings of youth" (al-Uthman 74). She complicates matters further when she writes "I made a resolution: to be unfaithful to my husband" (al-Uthman 74). She is still attracted to her husband but she speculates that he might not find her attractive anymore. The narrator says that she does not know if her husband has had affairs with other women. She describes her husband as still being able to attract other women. She wants to cheat on her husband until she recalls a letter her son sent her about his experience having sexual relations with an older woman. She realizes that does not want to be that woman.

Works Cited

Al-Saadawi, Nawal. "The Picture." Arab Women Writers. Albany: SUNY, 2005. 60-64. Print.
Al-Uthman, Layla. "The Picture." Arab Women Writers. Albany: SUNY, 2005. 73-78. Print.

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