A Struggle For Independence : A Young Woman 's Coming Of Age As National Allegory

A Struggle For Independence : A Young Woman 's Coming Of Age As National Allegory

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Marilyn Booth considers al-Zayyāt’s The Open Door intertwining two different kinds of marginality by utilizing “female perspective at the center, within a context of family and community” and “everyday language rather than literary diction” (xvii). Centering on Layla and her personal experience, Booth suggests that “Layla’s growth is paralleled by that of the national resistance toward the British which continues to take control despite Egypt’s 1923 independence (xxiii). Likewise, Buijsse in her thesis entitled A Struggle for Independence: A Young Woman’s Coming of Age as National Allegory in Latīfa al-Zayyāt’s al-Bāb al-maftūh also found similar finding of the parallel between Layla’s struggle to gain freedom as woman and Egypt’s struggle to win freedom from the imperialism (26).
The life episode of the lively and brave Layla without doubt offers her peculiar female experience that is apt to the metaphor of the door opener. On the contrary, Layla’s personal plight is different from, say, her cousin, Gamila, who can be perceived as the one who keeps the door closed in supporting the fundamentals along with most of female characters in the novel such as Gamila’s mother, Layla’s mother, and Dawlat Hanim. Growing up together, both Layla and Gamila share the moment of sisterhood which is not found in el-Saadawi’s Memoirs of a Woman Doctor. In addition, Layla’s peers such as Sanaa and Adila, in a way, enrich Layla’s personal life experience as they involve in her life episode.
Considered as controversial, Memoirs of a Woman Doctor (first appeared as serial in magazine) undergoes some censorship. As a result, some deletions are made by the Ruz al-Yusuf in which Saadawi admits that it happens as a consequence of “her young, inexperien...


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...ore them, that impel her toward freedom (al-Zayyāt 24)
From this moment on, Layla’s mother begins to introduce her to the fundamentals which give her “the rules, the right way to behave” (25). Her mother perceives fundamentals as the good thing which everyone must hold on to as she asserts that “whoever lives by the fundamentals can’t possibly go wrong” (26). Conversely, Layla sees them as new limits and restrictions which ruin her life. Giving up most of her childhood freedom, Layla finds sanctuary in her own room where she could be just herself without anyone interfere her peace of mind.
In that world she could live, with her dreams and her joys, her bruises and her longings for things she could not even defined, desires that now and again she could feel cavorting through every speck of her being, dancing until she began to sense her body as an airy lightness (32)

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