Please connect the stories “Somewhere in America” and “Queen of Sheba” in the book The Djinn Falls in Love and other Stories, edited by Murad and Shurin. Discuss the themes you see developing.

These two stories connect in terms of their themes of struggle and transformation. The protagonists in the stories face setbacks. By the end, the main characters appear prepared to embark on new, exciting lives that involve mysterious spirits and creatures.

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Two somewhat related themes that connect “Queen of Sheba” to “Somewhere in America” are struggle and transformation. In both short stories, the main characters face difficulties as they attempt to achieve their goals. In “Queen of Sheba,” Juanita’s goal is to iron the tablecloth “to perfection” for Christmas. This is not an easy task. Distracted by her otherworldly aunt, Juanita leaves a “scorch mark” on the tablecloth. With her plan falling apart, Juanita starts to cry. Thankfully, her aunt is around to help her out. Juanita’s aunt also helps her realize that she has the power to see supernatural things. At the start of the story, Juanita’s main concerns are ironing the tablecloth and staying up late to drink coffee with her parents. By the end of the story, Juanita finds herself on the verge of an exciting life of “border work.”

In “Somewhere in America,” Salim struggles to achieve his goal. He tries to sell the trinkets for his brother-in-law’s factory, but he doesn't experience success. In general, Salim has a hard time adjusting to life in New York City. He has trouble fitting in and getting by. Similar to Juanita, Salim has someone who can help him out. This someone is an ifrit masquerading as a taxicab driver. Soon, Salim undergoes a transformation. After an intimate night with the cab driver/ifrit, Salim turns into a taxicab driver, which suggests that Salim will be doing work linked to spirits and uncanny creatures just like the ifrit/cab driver and Juanita.

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