Chapters 1-2 Summary and Analysis
Sultana was the daughter of a prince of Saudi Arabia. Sultana's father was the son of Abdul Aziz, the first king of Saudi Arabia and the brother of the current king. Sultana grew up in the palace belonging to her father and lived in by her ten siblings and her mother, the prince's first of four wives. Sultana, who was not allowed by Saudi culture to write a book of her own, told her story to the author of this book who presented it to readers in the first person point of view as though Sultana wrote it.
In the section "Childhood," Sultana refused to give an apple the cook had given her to her brother. As they fought, Omar, their father's driver, separated them and reported the fight to their father. As a consequence of Sultana's refusal to give in to her brother, Ali was given the privilege of choosing what Sultana would eat at every meal for several weeks. Sultana often went to bed hungry as a result. A short time later, Sultana recalled overhearing a meeting between her father and his brothers. Sultana's father was the son of Abdul Aziz, a man who won back control of his country from the Rasheed clan and became the first king of Saudi Arabia. Now Abdul Aziz's son Sa'ud was king, but he was a bad king who was spending all his money and lacked in leadership skills. The brothers knew something needed to be done about Sa'ud but were reluctant to force him to resign. The brothers decided they would first attempt to reason with Sa'ud, but when this did not work, they had no choice but to force a resignation. Faisal, another brother, replaced Sa'ud on the throne.
In "Family," King Faisal's wife was a woman who believed women should be educated. With her encouragement, Sultana's mother managed to convince Sultana's father to allow their younger daughters to be educated, including Sultana. Sultana would always be grateful for this as she was an excellent student who would eventually get a college degree. Sara, Sultana's closest sister, was the smartest of all, however, with a special interest in art. At the same time, Sultana's father was a very wealthy man who spoiled his only son with his first wife with great riches. Sultana and her sisters were often overlooked, leaving Sultana with feelings of resentment for her brother. Sultana once broke a Rolex watch Ali left laying around and was pleased when Ali suffered a punishment as a result. Ali was often a cruel child, who would torture small animals and mistreat the servants. No one would do anything, however, because Sultana's father did not see the harm in Ali's cruel habits. Therefore, Ali was rarely punished for the many cruel things he would do, even when he would hurt and abuse Sultana.
In these chapters, Sultana is introduced. Sultana is the youngest daughter in a family of eleven children. Sultana's mother is the first wife of a prince of the Saudi royal family. Sultana's father has three other wives and many other children, but the children of his first wife have some priority because they are the first and the oldest. Unfortunately, all but one of them are girls. Girls are not desired in Saudi families because they are not an asset to the father. Only sons can work and inherit the father's estates. A girl's only worth to a father is a good marriage, but they must wait until the girl is twelve or thirteen; therefore, most fathers do not take much notice of their daughters in childhood. Sultana is different than other Saudi girls in that she is educated and she has a spirit that has not been broken by the cruel treatment of her brother and the indifference of her father.
These chapters also introduce Ali. Ali is a cruel little boy who often tortures people and animals alike simply because he can. Ali has little discipline from either his father or his mother. Ali is allowed to do as he pleases, and he takes advantage of this situation. Ali and Sultana are archenemies, often getting into fights in which Sultana often comes...
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