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Woman at Point Zero

My self-confidence began to be badly shaken, and I went through difficult moments. It looked to me as though this woman who had killed a human being, and was shortly to be killed herself, was a much better person than I. Compared to her, I was nothing but a small insect crawling upon the land amidst millions of other insects. Whenever I remembered the expression in the eyes of the warder, or the prison doctor, as they spoke of her complete indifference to everything, her attitude of total rejection, and above all her refusal to see me, the feeling that I was helpless, and of no significance grew on me.

The book Woman at Point Zero is about a journalist who goes to a prison to interview the prisoners, where she, in turn, is frustrated that a prisoner refuses to see her. This prisoner, Firdaus, is scheduled to be hanged within the following days of when the story opens. At the bottom of the third page of this story, we can see that the narrator is thinking about the effect this one prisoner rejecting her is making her feel. Even though it is only on the third page of the text and even though we just met the character and have a limited understanding of who she is as a person, this quote already connects the reader with her. Most readers have been through a situation where they have been rejected by someone they wanted to see or talk to. Even though the situation, culture, and location are not the same as in this story, we can connect to it and feel empathy for this character already.

This is what we were talking about in class, how even though I, as a reader, don’t know the author’s life and situations I can still relate to the story and the characters in it. The author wrote this line, not necessarily knowing we would read it, but she knew someone would. So she wrote about something anyone could relate to. This quote does raise a question, “Why does the narrator care so much about this woman and that she rejected our narrator?” While this quote is relatable, it makes me believe this woman is either important to our narrator, or that her self-esteem may be fragile enough to get damaged by a person she has not met not wanting to see her. It is stated later that they did not know each other. So why did Firdaus’s opinion matter to the narrator? Could it just be because she had been trying to talk to her and get this prisoners story? Or is it because she was the one person trying to get Firdaus’s side of the story, and all the narrator got in return was rejection?

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