Cherifa’s Story in Assia Djebar’s Novel, Children of the New World
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The first chapter of Assia Djebar’s novel, Children of the New World, is split into two parts. The first part is a background into the setting of the novel. The novel is based on the time period when the Algerians were at war with the French in the 1950’s in what is now called the Algerian War. The narrator first describes what it is like for women when neighboring villages were under attack. They try to stay safe by hiding in the backrooms of their house. There they try to hide what is going on outside from the children while at the same time watch what is happening. They would dream of a time when the war was over. The narrator quotes a woman whispering, “’The end,’ someone whispers, and then recites verses from the Koran to ward off bad luck. ‘That will be a marvelous awakening, a deliverance.’” They could be stuck there for days depending on how long the attack is. Even in their houses though, they were not safe. Occasionally, bomb fragments could end up on the terrace and destroy parts of their home. They also were not safe because if the attack was on their own village, the military would set every house on fire until the village was burnt to the ground and there was no way to find refugee from this.
The narrator then describes what it is life for men when the village is under attack. The men face a very different experience during the attacks than the women. Since they are outside working they usually get pulled aside by the military and face horrible treatment. They get chained up and risked being killed if they resisted. They are forced to stay like this until the attack is over so some men die of exhaustion from being in the sun for so long. However, when it is all over, the men are freed and allowed to come back to th...
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...k that the novel, Children of the New World is very interesting and even though it is fictional, it gives a lot of insight into the Algerian war and even more into the Muslim lifestyle. After learning about the Islamic faith all semester, it is nice to actually see the information learned put together in a different setting. The author does a good job at creating characters that are not real but portray issues that are relevant to the Muslim community. The author also has times where the wording is so descriptive and impacting that I had trouble not making my entire summary of just quotes from the book! Overall, I feel like this is a great book to end the semester with because even though it is a lighter read, it still is very informative.
Djerbar, Assia. Children of the New World. Translated by Marjolijn de Jager. New York: The Feminist Press, 2005.