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Women and girls are presented both as objects to be respected and revered, but occasionally they are fully developed characters. Much of the story centers on the abduction of the nine year old girl Raasta and her playmate Makka, who has Down’s Syndrome. Raasta, Jeebleh’s niece, is more of a symbol than a girl. She seems to have special powers, and draws people to her in times of conflict.
At the time, there was no telling whether Faahiye was exaggerating when he claimed that, “peace of mind will descend, halo-like, on whoever holds the girl is his or her embrace.” (p. 53)
Raasta is “a miracle child.” From the time of her birth, she was recognized for her spiritual qualities” (enotes summary). Jeebla is slightly annoyed by that. He disagrees with an American newspaper article on the abduction that describes Raasta as a symbol of hope (p. 7-8).
When Jeeblah finds Raasta, she turns out to be an intelligent and mature young girl. She takes care of Maaka, and survives captivity carefully. In fact, Raasta is “stronger than anyone had imagined” (299).
Jeebleh’s attitude toward his mother is also one of respect. He wants to return to Somalia in order to put her affairs in order and honor her memory. Eventually, though, he manages to honor this faithful woman in death as he had not been able to do during her life. (enotes summary)
When Jeeblah meets the man who does not seem to respect women, and in fact says that he and his current wife blundered into each other, Jeeblah is annoyed and says that he “could have killed him” (p. 104).
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