Woman at Point Zero--literary criticismOk, so this is a book that we're supposed to teach next year, and I can't find any real literary criticism of the book, only criticism of the author and her...

Woman at Point Zero--literary criticism

Ok, so this is a book that we're supposed to teach next year, and I can't find any real literary criticism of the book, only criticism of the author and her sensationalist topics:  female mutilation; abusive spouses; prostitution, etc.  I find it a dull read, poorly written, with little literary merit.  Anyone?

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auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I'll add my perplexity to that of #2.  Here's an argument for you to use to fight its inclusion into the curriculum.  If you are unable to find literary criticism...it probably doesn't qualify as literature

Every book is a book, of course; but every book does not have that ambiguous but essential element--literary merit.  I know it's an awfully subjective term, but I think it's like the Supreme Court's definition of pornography:  "I know it when I see it." I don't see it, literary merit, in this text.

Seriously, if you gave that descriptor to parents--"female mutilation; abusive spouses; prostitution"--and asked them if they want their kids reading such things, the answer would be a resounding NO!  I refuse to believe that whatever educational benefit this text might have to offer (though I'm wondering if it has any at all) can't be gleaned from some other (and more inspiring) work. 

Perhaps your school system would be afraid of a parent outcry; if so, use that dire prediction to eliminate the book before anyone teaches it.  If your school system is one which truly does want to deliver a quality, high-caliber education, your argument is that using this text would move you backward, not forward.

I'm sorry someone thinks this is a good idea; I'm hopeful you can be an effective advocate in protecting your future students. 

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

You are right there is not a lot on the web yet about Woman at Point Zero. I guess I couldn't say I enjoyed the book, it just isn't the type of book you can enjoy. However, I do think it is an important window into the abuse of women that is still rampant in our universal society.  It hasn't been too many years since wives could take their husbands to court for rape in this country.  Not sure why your school system would choose this particular book, but I do know that The Handmaids Tale and this book are not even close in theme. The Handmaids Taleis more about reproduction.  Sparksnotes.com has a summary and some other information. I don't usually like sparks but this section is pretty good. I have included some links maybe they will help some. There is also a study guide at the second link below. The third link is a site dedicated to the author.

http://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/womanatpointzero.html

http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Foreign-Languages-and-Literatures/21F-022JSpring2004/D313875C-EE84-4526-81B9-291502ED3F90/0/thot_ques_f_wm.pdf

http://www.worldtrek.org/odyssey/africa/nawal/index.html

http://www.nawalsaadawi.net/

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Not to throw a red herring onto the topic here, but a teacher in central Florida was FIRED (end of last year) for teaching The Handmaid's Tale in his classroom. The overt sexual nature of the piece outraged parents and administrators alike, and when the teacher was cornered about it, he defended it as literature. Just so you know...

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I have not read this book, but based on your description, why are you teaching it?  Who made that decision?  Surely there are other books with better writing which address the same or similar issues?  The Handmaid's Tale would be a great substitute.  Curiouser and curiouser...

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