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The sexual component of The Occasional Virgin is clear from before I even open the book. My first thought about this novel and the sexual component in Hanan al-Shakyh’s work “I Sweep the Sun Off Rooftops.” The narrator in “I sweep the Sun Off Rooftops” had moved to London and has culture shock in the particular moment that the character, the English boy, and the narrator had sex. Both books bring sexuality and culture to the main stage, not like some of the other books/writers we have read thus far in class.

I didn’t chew my fingers with regret at giving him my virginity, furious at my weakness in lying down for him, and taking this boy in my arms just because he was English, a citizen of that great nation which had once ruled half the globe; nor did I blame myself for having clung to the notion that I had severed all links with my country just because I had traveled to London alone without any member of my family.”

This quote is from “I Sweet the Sun Off Rooftops,” and I chose it to show the thoughts from the main narrator in this story as her sexual experience as it happened. The next quote is from page 139 in  The Occasional Virgin, “ ‘I didn’t know you were a virgin. You’re a true Muslim and I’ve treated you as if you weren’t’ “ This line really spoke to me when related to the other short story she wrote, because they both focus heavily on purity. One not seeming to care at all in the terms of being a virgin and, while the latter is a sense of value to the idea of purity and being a virgin. The idea of staying a virgin until marriage is prominent in many cultures and is put to the extreme in Islamic culture. The Virgin Mary is the only woman to be mentioned by name in the Quran, so this shows the importance of being a virgin. Where as this narrator disregards that idea, is this because she isn’t the ‘true muslim” what the English boy refers to her as. Is this because she is not close to her religion? Is she not close to her culture? Did she drift away throughout tmher life?

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