• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Commentary on Raschida el-Charni's Life on the Edge

Extracts from this document...


Raschida El-Charni's short story, Life on the Edge, is foremost a powerful and uncompromising attack against a version of patriarchy in which women and children are subjected by men, and which accepts that a husband and father may exercise absolute authority over his wife and children. The author conveys her aversion towards this form of patriarchy through the voice of an unnamed first-person female narrator recounting the events of one particularly traumatic day in the life of her family when she was aged 10. The story witnesses the narrator's dramatic transition from childhood to adulthood and, exposes the rigid gender roles imposed by the patriarchy to be baseless and inhumane. The narrator and her two younger brothers lose some of their father's sheep when they are caught outside in a sudden heavy downpour of rain. Their father "was very attached (16)" to his sheep and "was more saddened by any illness among them than by the death of a relative (16)." He reacts to this loss by giving the children a thrashing with his leather belt, and does not spare their heavily pregnant mother when she tries to protect them. The events of the day reach a climax that night when the mother goes into labour during the night. ...read more.


yet this is juxtaposed against their mother's warning. There is also a marked difference in the attitudes of the narrator, and that of her two brothers towards the journey. For the narrator, the journey to there hereafter has symbolical significance, something it does not have for her brothers. Although Ammar and al-Amin, the narrator's two brothers, are also physically abused by their father, they are male, and as such will be empowered once they come of age. This could either be absolute power over their wife and children, a direct replication of their father, or power within the isolated society. The gender of the narrator is not specified, and thus prevents the reader from establishing any gender bias towards the character. It is the author's intention that due to the 'masculine' traits exhibited by the narrator in establishing this journey to the hereafter, automatically assume that she is male. It is with this assumption that el-Charni undermines the belief central to the workings of a patriarchal society which is that only males are both worthy and capable of holding a position of power and influence within society. The 'masculine' traits possessed by the narrator are those which, in a patriarchy, should theoretically be exhibited by males only. ...read more.


She is referred to only once in the story by her mother as "my daughter (18)" which is also the phrase that identifies the narrator as a female character. Although this emotionally distances the reader from the narrator, it allows her character to be generalised. The reader can then relate the narrator's experiences, as well as el-Charni's message of gender equality, to their own personal experiences and society. By doing this, el-Charni is encouraging the reader to re-evaluate their views on the capabilities of the female gender, integrating her own perceptions into their personal mindset. Raschida el-Charni challenged the rigid gender roles imposed by a patriarchy in the short story Life on the Edge. Through the unnamed first-person female narrator and her transition into adulthood, el-Charni conveys the dehumanisation of women in a patriarchy by the men surrounding them. In the family, is accepted that the narrator's father may value the welfare of his sheep over that of his wife and children. The narrator's family, the only other characters in the story, do not have individual roles and are developed by el-Charni to expose the inhumane and base gender roles within a patriarchy. The physical setting of the story is used to represent the constraints placed upon females in the society, with the high mountains bordering the community symbolically preventing the narrator from developing into an adult who holds respect, status or value. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Languages section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Languages essays

  1. The Subliminal Role of the Church

    This religious and love conflict is ironic because God is often thought to help his followers in reaching their goals, however in this case, he serves as a direct impediment towards Bento's goals of marrying Capitu. Similar conflicts may be found in Pedro Paramo, where the moral principles of the Catholic religion are in conflict with the need to survive.

  2. An imaginary life

    An empty place, where the world freezes for eight months with a polar curse, and when the ice loosens and breaks up, the plain turns muddy and stinks, the insects swarm and plague us. No flowers. No fruits. We are at the ends of the earth.

  1. Long Days Journey Into Night

    Tyrone is continually cheated out of money by McGuire, whose questionable skills as a property realtor hardly ever yield any profit to Tyrone himself - and yet he does not learn from his past either, and continues to do the same thing at no gain to himself.

  2. The image of the narrator character in the novel in "Eugene Onegin"

    harmony, so he yearns for foreign countries in the Adriatic and Albion. And the images of the storm and waves, which bears his imagination, a symbol of eternal motion of the monotony of life destroyed. But escape is related to the complaint native De suffering, love and passion in my heart I buried.

  1. Katherine Mansfield and Female Dependance

    Ironically the narrator states that she "blinked rapidly, screwing up her face," even though the readers become aware that her image is already a permanent mess (11). Through the repetition of the whereabouts of her husband who is apparently "shearing", symbolism is presented in the fact that he has stripped

  2. Dorian Gray's Defining Name

    Wilde reinforces the definition of Dorian of conflicting emotion regarding Dorian Gray's struggle between his sexuality preference, explicit in Chapter 4 when Dorian declares to Lord Henry that "...a voice can stir one. Your voice and the voice of Sibyl Vane are two things that I shall never forget"(57).

  1. Chapter 17 and 18 of Fielas Child

    The fact that Benjamin prayed was not something suprising, however who he prayed for was suprising. I was not surprised that he prayed for the entire Komoetie family.

  2. The God of Small Things Commentary.

    The 'half-moons' suggest her weariness in searching for purpose in her life. The negative connotation of 'trolls' foreshadows the adverse future consequences of the "size and shape" that her life does eventually acquire. The current uncertainty of that "size and shape" is shown through her arbitrary collection of items ("a

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work