The Late Twentieth Century: 1960-2000 - Short Fiction

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In "Sandpiper" by Adhaf Soueif, what are the themes?

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One of the overall themes of this excellent short story is that of cultural incompatibility. The narrator, as a European white woman, reflects on the way that she has never fitted in to Egyptian society, even though she has married an Egyptian man, and as a result, she is left isolated and on the fringes of this culture. The reminiscences of the narrator when she first started her married life in Egypt are full of examples of how she found it difficult to adapt to another culture. Note how she had to adapt to somebody else doing shopping and cooking:

The meals I planned never worked out. Um Sabir cooked what was best in the market on that day. If I tried to do the shopping the prices trebled. I arranged the flowers, smoothed out the pleats in the curtains and presided over our dinner-parties.

In the same way, the narrator is unable to eat fruit and vegetables unless they are washed "in red permanganate" first to clean them. This is a very visible symbol of the way that she does not fit in nor will ever fit in, unlike her daughter who was born in Egypt. The text therefore raises the theme of the impossibility of entering another culture completely, and how such attempts only leave the person stranded on the fringes of that culture rather than being able to enter it completely.

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kittykiss | Student

one of the theme is love.As we see in the story that a woman migrates to egypt from europe only for her daughter.Although she could not adjust herself in the environment of egypt and felt very lonely and isolated there but she tried to accustomed to the life of cairo as she lived her daughter very much.

Secondly,her love for her husband and her ealtionship with him is also very significant for her.As in the story she saw her grave in an aeroplane and the major thoughts that came in her mind was his name so after this incident she decided to marry him

Similarly,perspective is also another major theme.In the last paragraph of the story she wants her husband to care for her feelings and for her emotions as the water waves cares for the sand.An evident form the story is "the white foam knows nothing better than thosw sands which wait for it,rise to it and suck it in". Her way of looking at things has changed while everything else remains the same.

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