Take notice of at least three items (characters, incidents, or images) that seem to repeat themselves in the book.
a) Gentleman b) Prostitute c) High school diploma
Who is the narrator in this story?
Nawal El Saadawi is the author.
Is the narrator telling us a story about himself?
She’s telling us about a woman she met while doing research on neurosis in Egyptian women in a Qanatir prison.
Firdaus is imprisoned for what reason?
Firdaus is serving a life sentence for the murder of a man.
In jail, how does Firdaus act?
She avoids all guests and refuses to converse with anybody. She doesn’t eat and doesn’t sleep at all. She can stay staring at the vacantly at the space fo hours
How does Firdaus describe herself?
(Give three characteristics)
How do the men she describes from her childhood behave around her?
They invoked Allah’s name and called upon His blessings or repeated Hi holy words in a subdued guttural muttering and whispering without a moment’s respite.
What does her uncle tell her when she says she wants to go to the university?
He tells her that the university was only for men.
How do the women she describes from her childhood behave around her?
Does Firdaus have any siblings?
Firdaus has no siblings
To whom is she closest as a child? Why?
Mohammadain because he would swim with her in the stream
What does Fridaus like about school and what does she want to be when she grows up?
In school, there were new things, books and new subjects as well as new girls her age with whom she studied with. She wants to be a great leader such as the head of a state.
Who is Wafeya?
Wafeya was Fridaus’ friend
What does Fridaus learn about the rulers she studied in books and the notion of patriotism?
She learnt that they were all men with avaricious and distorted personality, a never-ending appetite for money, sex and unlimited power. To them patriotism meant that the poor men should die defending the land of the rich.
Who is Iqbal?
She was Fridaus teacher.
Is Firdaus a good student?
Yes she was a good student, she was teacher Iqbal’s favorite
Will Firdaus go to the university? Who decides?
Her uncle was the one to determine if he would send her to the university.
How does Fridaus’ uncle treat his wife?
He treats her calmly but Fridaus thinks it is more out of fear, because she is from a higher-class society, than for love
How does Firdaus respond to her first attempt to run away?
She does not remember what had happened all she remembers is that she found herself in her uncles house and was already married.
Describe Fridaus’ husband.
He was old, gluttonous and abusive
How does he treat her?
He treated her badly, he yelled at her and would beat her for no good reason.
Who is Bayoumi?
He was the owner of the coffee shop Fridaus went to after she was severely beaten by her husband and she could not go to her uncle’s place.
How does his behavior evolve?
Hi behavior started to evolve when she told him that she needed to look for a job so that she could stop abusing his hospitality andleave his house.
How does she escape?
A neighbor helped her by calling a carpenter who forced the door open.
Who is Sharifa?
She was the woman Fridau met after escaping from Bayoumi
What is her advice to Firdaus?
That the important thing is how one lives before he dies and she should be harder than life because the only people who lived were the harder than life. Men never valued women, but women were they ones who valued themselves
How does Firdaus describe her “employment” and the men who visit her in Sharifa’s apartment?
She says it was work that she was not supposed to feel anything and all men usually asked her if she was feeling good except for one who asked her if she was feeling pain.
Who is Fawzy and how is he connected with Sharifa?
He is the man who asked her whether she was feeling was feeling pain.
How is Firdaus treated by the police?
She is treated badly; the officer wants to go seep with her or she arrests.
When Firdaus says, “It was as if he had lifted a veil from my eyes, and I was seeing for the first time,” to what is she referring?
The man she run into while it was raining after her encounter with the policeman.
Who is Di’aa and what is his opinion of Firdaus?
Di’aa was one of Firdaus friend and he was a journalist he felt that Firdaus was not respectable.
32 Why does Firdaus try to change her profession?
The words from Di’aa that she was not respectable and she decided to change the profession because she wanted to be a respectable woman.
What is life like for the women in Firdaus’ workplace?
The female employees were more afraid of losing their jobs than a prostitute was afraid of losing her life.
How is that Firdaus becomes an “honorable” woman?
As a prostitute, she was Firdaus realized that she was looked upon with more respect and had been valued more highly than other female employees.
Who are Ibrahim and Fatheya?
Ibrahim was Firdaus colleague while Fatheya was her friend.
How do they resemble previously mentioned characters?
They resembled the previous characters in the sense that Firdaus could not distinguish their faces
Is Ibrahim an honorable man? Why/why not?
Ibrahim was an honorable man, he was made the chairman of a revolutionary committee in the company.
What does Firdaus conclude after she is rejected?
She concluded that she hated men
According to Firdaus, what is the difference between prostitution and marriage?
She explains that all women are prostitutes of some sort only when you are married you are enslaved but for prostitution one is free.
What happens when Firdaus meets Ibrahim four years later?
Ibrahim insists on going to her flat and she gives in and sleeps with her but this time, he pays, Firdeus realized that he had never loved her and he was with her because he was not paying her for sex.
What does Firdaus know about patriotism?
That patriotism is following orders and that elevated to a sacred national duty which involved taking a prostitute to the bed of the head of state or to prison.
Who is Marzouk?
He was the pimp that came into Firdaus life when she thought she had escaped men. He told her that every prostitute needed a pimp to protect her from other pimps and the police and that he was going to do that.
Why does Firdaus murder Marzouk?
She killed him in self defense
When Firdaus says, “‘I am speaking the truth. And truth is savage and dangerous,’” to what is she referring?
She is taking about prostitution
What does Firdause say about why she is condemned to death?
She is condemned to death because they are afraid of her truth
According to Firdaus, how are death and truth similar?
Truth and death are similar because they require courage if one is to face them