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Mothers And Daughters In Fictional Works

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Chapter Summary


Few women growing up in patriarchal society can feel mothered enough, argues Adrienne Rich in Of Woman Born. Not only is the mother's power too limited to give her daughter the protection and support she needs, but it is through the mother that patriarchy instills in the young daughter her proper, conventional expectations.Although Arab women's literature abounds in works that depict mother-daughter relationships, intimate bonding of mothers and daughters is rare. Mamdouh's Mothballs and al-Shaykh's Women of Sand and Myrrh depict various sets of surrogate mother-daughter relationships that women forge in order to satisfy their needs for intimacy and nurturance. Both novels show the paramount importance of the family form for developing such relationships. In the extended family, both mother and daughter have more opportunities for cultivating intimate ties with other family members than in the nuclear family.

Keywords:Arab women's literature; Mothballs ; surrogate mother-daughter relationships; Women of Sand and Myrrh


This chapter examines how the mother-daughter relationship in Arab families is represented in Arab women's literature of the last half century. It uses both early and contemporary writings of female authors from across the Arab world to illuminate the traditional and evolving nature of mother-daughter relationships in Arab families and how these family dynamics reflect and influence modern Arab life. In exploring this topic, the chapter offers a new perspective on Arab women writers— their position in society, their major interests and concerns, and their preferred forms of creative writing—while filling a void in the existing scholarship about intimate relationships between women in Arab families. The chapter analyzes their relationship from various perspectives: psychological, feminist, cultural, religious, and political. It illustrates the myriad patterns of this primary bond and gauge its far-reaching implications not only for mothers and daughters but also for the family and the wider society.

Keywords:Arab families; Arab women writers; Arab women's literature; Arab world; mother-daughter relationship




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