Through her use of repetition, Saadawi successfully depicts Firdaus as a woman who is stuck in this destructive cycle of being tricked into a temporary euphoria-like high before being shocked into depression by the cold reality of her oppression. On multiple occasions, Firdaus is seen coming to this erroneous revelation on how she can succeed in her society as a woman and experiencing temporary happiness before experiencing some type of trauma that renders her bitter and morose about the truth of her situation. The most notable example is Firdaus’ inability to find true love throughout her life. Towards the end of the book, Firdaus is seen failing at succeeding in a meaningless job in order to try and reach her deluded goal becoming a “respected” woman when she meets Ibrahim. Firdaus’ description of her interaction with Ibrahim creates a strong sense of déjà vu as Saadawi writ...
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...it with no sense of humanity. In other words, Saadawi creates a dilemma of the lesser evil, with determinism being this path to oppression and free will being nothing more than the self-comforting “revelations” of a traumatized martyr.
By depicting the central opposition of determinism versus free will as both relatively bleak options through repetition, Saadawi illustrates the true horrors faced by women in this time period. Through repetition of similar events throughout her life, Firdaus’ story becomes a pattern of an inevitable and destructive cycle of pain and suffering, and serves as the symbol of the inability to make true choices that lead to happiness in an oppressive society. Through Firdaus’ story and the development of the central opposition, Saadawi manages to successfully establish the politically driven theme of oppression of women in the Middle East.
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