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Questioning Georgette

Hanan al-Shaykh’s “The Keeper of Virgins” centers around an unnamed dwarf narrator who is trying to gain access to a convent.  A young woman named Georgette has recently become a member of the convent and the dwarf wants to find her, which is why he is so fixated on joining it.  It is implied that the narrator has romantic feelings for Georgette that she does not reciprocate, as she refuses to see him on his daily visits.

I think a lot of things about this story went over my head, and Georgette is one of them.  Did she die before the dwarf got his watchman job at the convent?  That would explain why he never sees her, even though the convent is small, and the nuns never leave.  He says that the nuns all look the same, but I think that he wouldn’t have trouble recognizing someone who has had that profound of an influence on his life.  The head nun also shows the dwarf a rotting corpse.  I couldn’t tell from the prose if this is her trying to make him let go of Georgette or show him that he will be with the convent for the rest of his life.


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