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The Use of Pride in the Stories, I Will Marry When I Want and Woman at Point Zero

By ashleigh Jan 09, 2009 458 Words
In both ‘I Will Marry When I Want’ By Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Ngũgĩ wa Mĩriĩ and ‘Woman at Point Zero’ by Nawal El Saadawi a running theme of pride is used to present the values of the characters presented. ‘Woman at point Zero’ portrays the idea of sacrificing the things in which you hold pride for your values or necessity though Firdaus, a struggling young Arab woman fighting to live in a predominantly male 1970’s Egypt. ‘I Will Mary When I Want’ differs in that it focuses on the battle to maintain what you are proud of, through a Kenyan family desperate to maintain their national identity in a post-colonial country. However, despite the differences, there are interesting comparisons to be drawn in the values portrayed, through a sense of pride, that seemingly span both cultures.

Kigũũnda sees himself as strong, male figure. He holds a great sense of pride is his masculinity or manhood. ‘A man brags about his own penis, However tiny.’ Is repeated throughout the play. For Kigũũnda the reference to his penis is an obvious symbol of his manhood. His pride in his masculinity is enforced by another symbolic presence: ‘there hangs a sheathed sword’. This masculine symbol gives the image again of strength, power and struggle suggesting these traits of manhood are concepts he values highly every day and in the protection of his family and land.

Here there are similarities to be drawn with Firdaus in ‘Woman at Point Zero’. Firdaus also holds a certain type of pride in womanhood. However this is ultimately due to her hatred of men rather than strength of her gender ‘Each time I picked up a newspaper and found the picture of a man who was one of them, I would spit on it’. This pride in womanhood is shown not through a love of herself, but through her relationship with Sharifa. Sharifa, like many of the men before her uses and manipulates Firdaus. However Sharifa is the first character in the text that dominates Firdaus that Firdaus still shows respect and obedience ‘I willingly became a young novice in Sharifa’s hands’. Her respect of Sharifa shows that she values womanhood and women who show power without the dominance of men.

Firdaus is told by others she is ugly ‘Do not forget what a nose she has. It’s big and ugly like a tin mug.’ However she begins to develop a pride in her own womanhood with the revelation of her beauty and her body ‘with a new body, smooth and tender as a rose petal’ ‘My body was slender, my thighs tense’. This new found pride in her body comes with her independence.

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