To detach from the familiar and to immerse into the unknown is a familiar process to human beings. From leaving a mothers womb to attending college, human beings are constantly confronted with change. However, persistent change does not facilitate the process required to assimilate. In the novel, A Street in Marrakech, Elizabeth Fernea embarks on a journey to Morocco and is met with resentment and belligerence. Her tale as an outsider, searching for the essence of Marrakech that is concealed to most Westerners, exemplifies immersing oneself into the unknown.
Elizabeth Fernea and husband Bob Fernea travel to Marrakech, Morocco because Mr. Fernea receives a scholarship grant to study anthropology in Morocco. From the start of the book, it is easy to admire Fernea because she is ambitious, “We would all learn the dialect of Moroccan Arabic, so different from the Egyptian and Iraqi dialects we had spoken a long time ago. Hopefully we would learn something about Morocco and North Africa.” As the story progressed, I realized how difficult these tasks would be to achieve. Through her narratives she demonstrates how merely locating oneself in a country is not enough to gain a real sense of the culture. Fernea makes it clear that she had to make a conscious effort of shake off her Western ways. Even after three months of residence, she recognized that she was still as foreign to the natives as when she arrived to Rue Trésor.
It is very respectable when Fernea realizes later in the novel that “the Moroccans were as hard on each other as they were on us, the foreigners!” I think it is exceptional that she observed the privacy and concealment of these Moroccan women and had the ability to reach such a conclusion without judging them. She denies herself the American way of thought of denouncing the Easterners to praise the West and prove superiority in our way of life. My freshman seminar last semester was on the topic of Ethnography, we read Edward Said’s book...
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