Woman at Point Zero

by Nawal El Saadawi

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What do eyes symbolize in El Saadawi's novel Woman at Point Zero?

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One can make the call that the "eyes" that are such a part of Woman at Point Zero are the elements that see all that women endure.  Part of what is so striking about Firdaus' retelling of the narrative to the psychiatrist is that she is able to relay it with an objective view.  It is a condition in which her own sight about what it means to be a woman.  Firdaus is able to speak from a position of point of view in which there is a clear sight about the woman's predicament in Egyptian society.  The eyes that are so prevalent in the narrative represent the sight of all of the injustices that Firdaus endures, the predicament that many women must endure.  These eyes are the same eyes that see social and political hypocrisy, stressing the ideas of a liberated people but not speaking for women's liberation.  These eyes see the religious hypocrisy of men like Firdaus' father who is an ardent follower of Islam, but then so easily abuses his wife.  These are the eyes that see the abuses that women perpetrate to one another, such as Firdaus' aunt who arranges her marriage to a man well past his age and one who does not take Firdaus' interests to heart.  These are the same eyes that scan the legal system, a configuration run by men for the interests of men in silencing those of women.  It is these eyes that see all.  Firdaus' speaks with these eyes.  These eyes are the testament that refuse to become "a pair of shoes forgotten under a chair."  Their presence means that the predicament of women will be validated and authenticated as long as they are able to see and relay the injustice present in Egyptian society, and in a larger sense, all social settings that violate the rights of women.

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