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In the first half of Woman at Point Zero, readers are met with multiple instances of Firdaus running into the street to escape unfair treatment she was experiencing at the time. This theme is also echoed in the second half of the book after Firdaus escaped into the streets once more:

“Nothing in the streets was capable of scaring me any longer, and the coldest wind could no longer bite into my body. Had my body changed? Had I been transported into another woman’s body? And where had my own, my real body, gone?” (82). 

I found this instance of retreating to the streets particularly interesting because this seemed to be an experience Firdaus was especially familiar with: hadn’t Firdaus already come to terms with the dangers which were present in public? Why, so late in the book, does Firdaus finally mention her incapability of being scared? Saadawi’s audience first witnesses Firdaus escaping into the street much earlier in the book when she runs away from her uncle and his wife, after their discussion revolving around Firdaus’ future:

“My feet ran down the stairs, but her voice continued to echo in my ears until I reached the bottom, and walked into the street.” (53).

Soon after Firdaus escaped into the street, she soon returns to her uncle’s apartment due to a scare she experienced. This was her first time being on her own, completely defenseless, and it makes sense as to why she was nervous given the immediate circumstance. However, it was not too long until she once again left her dwelling, back into the street again to escape her husband this time.

“So I left, but this time I did not go to my uncle’s house. I walked through the streets with swollen eyes, and a bruised face, but no one paid any attention to me.” (60). 

Firdaus’ husband had beat her so badly that she realized she would rather be in the streets than with a man who beat her and belittled her constantly. Almost immediately, Firdaus met a man by the name of Bayoumi who took care of her. He purchased her fruit, gave her a place to sleep, and made sure she was warm when she slept. After months of living with Bayoumi, his treatment towards her diminished, and Firdaus was once again in the position where she sought solace in the streets.

“I ran out of Bayoumi’s house into the street. For the street had become the only safe place in which I could seek refuge, into which I could escape with my whole being.” (68).

This specific reference of escaping into the street in the first half of the book is truly what confuses me – Firdaus had already admitted she felt safe in the street because she had only experienced torture from men behind closed doors. If this is the case, then why in the second half is it emphasized that Firdaus can no longer feel at risk in the street at last? Hadn’t she already come to this conclusion much earlier? Escaping into the street definitely holds thematic value, and I have paid extreme attention to the many occurrences as the book continued.  I, as a reader, am having difficulty contrasting the meaning of these excerpts and the significance of the quotation from page 82 of Woman at Point Zero when the important theme of safety in the street had already been determined.

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