Beginning with the assumption that women of all cultures experience a conflict between their culturally prescribed gender roles and their individual sexual desires, I comparie the characters Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin's 'The Awakening' with Isma and Hajila of Assia Djebar's 'Ombre Sultane.' Each woman undergoes a process of awakening body consciousness that leads to her first experience of desire, an essential link between physical and mental consciousness. The expression of female desire conflicts with prescribed cultural behavior. Each character also moves away from her family and cultural roots, thus assuring herself a necessary distance for rebellion against social standards. However, of all three women, only Isma from 'Ombre Sultane' is able to return to her community, successfully resolving the conflict between gender and individual desire.
Thesis (M.A.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2000
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