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Woman at Point Zero

I discovered that all these rulers were men. What they had in common was an avaricious and distorted personality, a never-ending appetite for money, sex, and unlimited power.
              –Firdaus, Woman at Point Zero

This novel is about a woman who is sentenced to be hanged after she is accused of killing a man. She is recounting her story to a female psychiatrist who comes to visit her the day before she is sentenced to die, and from the very beginning we can see that she has been deeply traumatized by men throughout the course of her life. In the very beginning she discusses how her father would treat her and her mother; constantly beating them, eating the last of their food without sharing, and just genuinely having no regard for their well-being. This is what she comes to know, and expects from the men in her life from a very young age. She then goes on to share that when she was a young girl working out in the fields, she and one of the little boys played “bride and bridegroom” in one of the huts. She is too young to know exactly what is going on, but keeps coming back to those feelings later on in her life. She then goes on to mention that her own uncle used to touch her when she was still a child as well and did not know that it was wrong until she saw a film a little bit later on once she moves in with him.

The quotation at the top of this post stuck with me while reading the first half of the novel because I feel it perfectly sums up the experiences she has had with men thus far and epitomizes what she thinks of them. She believes that from the dawn of time men have only cared about three things: money, sex, and power. This makes me believe that her opinion of men is only going to get worse, since she ended up in prison for supposedly killing a man. I appreciated this foreshadowing because at least for me after reading that and having the a-ha moment of relating it back to why we are hearing her story in the first place, I want to speed up and hear what led her to end up where she is. Saadawi did such a wonderful job of crafting a character who is so captivating and dynamic; right off the bat she hooks the audience. I’m having a very tough time putting this novel down; I’m extremely emotionally invested in Firdau’s story and am itching to see how it all unfolds.

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