In the Country of Men Woman

-Automatic sense of powerlessness initiated by the cultural environment of Libya’s patriarchal society in which woman are severely oppressed. Matars setting in a figurative landscape of Libya in which males obtain an overriding dominance assists in creating a world in which powerless woman is a norm. From the outset of the novel, women are portrayed as weak and incompetence demonstrated by Kareem’s descriptions of a woman’s menstrual cycle as “a curse” . This criticism from a mere child demonstrates how woman are considered below children in the society’s hierarchy. Matar emphasizes the oppression of woman through the act of Mama being immobile during sex. This heightens that lack of power possessed by woman and the ability for the outside patriarchal society to infiltrate a household and be present in even the most intimate situations. lack of respect of woman rights within the society is evident with the severe extremities associated with her arranged marriage. Locked up and sex against will, notion that father would execute ultimate power by killing her without compunction highlights how a woman is merely a chattel in the society. -Rarely called by names highlighting limiting role as bearer. I must be a good wife, loyal and unquestioning…”. Puts make up on, Baba asks why no lunch yet, tells her what to pack= Men have control and ability to take action while woman are powerless relying on men for permission..

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2) However, Matar demonstrates how power is more individual than cultural with Mama’s ability to choose how she reacts to specific situations resulting in obtaining power to save Baba. Mama develops power after her intervention with Um Masoud leads to the successful saving of Baba’s life, awakening Mama to the subtle yet influential power she possesses. -Matar makes a statement that individual power is an inherent characteristic, as Mama discovers happiness throgh recognizing her own ability to wield power. This is demonstrated to the allusion of the story of “Scheherazade”. Although she condemns Scheherazade’s actions, scorning the heroine’s actions to save herself simply for life itself, Mama displays action similar to those of the novel woman. Her actions parallel those of the heroine, ultimately harnessing hidden power to outsmart and influence, saving Baba in the process.

She ultimately uses power of rationality and realism to act- pragmatic Despite the men acting in ways that are idealistic rather than realistic, Mama shows ultimate power of knowledge that in this particular society, resistance is futile and best not be engaged. Matar highlights how in order to survive; a person must acquiesce to regime. Becomes “darling of the house” and becomes a woman who is able to cope with her life in juxtaposition to at the beginning of the novel where she succumbed to the consumption of alcohol as an escape mechanism. On a deeper level, Matar invites us to view her behaivour as a response to a world full of suffering and lack of control. Therefore, her divergence from alcohol consumption supports the newfound harmony harnessed within her relationship.

3. Mama is powerful in the sense that she is able to influence thoughts within her son, ultimately controlling his departure to Egypt. -Mama’s use of storytelling of her “black day” has the ability to influence young Suleiman and implicates him in guilt and a duty of care -Results in him “dreaming of saving her”. Power over Suleiman When combined with alcohol problem, her power over him is manipulative, with Suleiman standing up to Baba stating “all you men are the same”. Uses power of persuasion to arrange Suleiman’s “safety” as he leaves for Egypt is a deceitful maneuver that echoes her own marriage. Suleiman describes her “ruthless, steely certainty that made her send me away”. Hence, IN THE DENOUEMENT OF THE NOVEL, Mama accesses her inherent power

4. Um Masoud
– Matar’s juxtaposition of Mama and the other principle wife, Um Masoud, in the novel demonstrate how inequality is not shared throughout all households Um Masoud, who is married to a RC member, is seen to wield major influence over her husband. Um Masoud reminds her husband of his catechism “She is our dear neighbor” It is she who intercedes on Mama’s behalf to save Baba which is partly acknowledged by Mama who “What if they can’t or wont help us”, detailing Um Masoud’s ability to save Baba Further relishes her power-playing role to a point in which is unhealthy and warped is demonstrated by her ordering of Suleiman to take a slice of cake to the “gentlemen sitting in the car”. ordering Suleiman to act in kindness towards a man who has been spying on his family and involved in the execution of his best friends father. Demonstrates Matar’s presentation of intricate an complex presentation of characters. Not black and white.


Women have inner ability to choose how they react, may not be discovered until catalytic events enhance maturity. Power is a by-product of authority demonstrated by Um Masoud whose close proximity to power is able to inflate ego.

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