Dreams of Trespass and In the Eye of the Sun
Both novels, Dreams of Trespass and In the Eye of the Sun deal with barriers. In the first one the barrier is a physical one, one that does not allow the women to cross it. While it creates incredible sense of solidarity among the women and a safety net, it also creates despair and a cause to fight for most of the mothers of the Mernissi household. In the second novel, In the Eye of the Sun we also see barriers, but this time they are invisible, more subtle, but equally damaging. Asya’s barrier is of communication at two levels, sexually and emotionally. She is not able to trespass the sexual barrier with her husband and is not able to trespass the communication barrier with neither her husband nor her best friend nor anyone in her family. The women in both of the novels deal with barriers although at completely different levels: one physical and the other psychological.
Fatima Mernissi is a superb writer who introduces the reader into a harem through the mind of a nine-year-old girl. In this autobiographical novel young Mernissi talks uncensored about the contradictions of life in a harem, surrounded by the extraordinary women in her family who are restrained from leaving the family courtyard. These women’s is a struggle of complete lack of freedom. They are not allowed to leave the courtyard except on very few occasions, and escorted by men (Mernissi 39). Their lack of mobility is also accentuated by lack of other freedoms such as education and financial freedom, although they have a voice in the decision making of the crucial changes in the harem life.
Throughout the book the strongest scream of the women is their protest against their incarceration. Their despair is their impossibility of going beyond the walls of their family compound. It is even referred to as a “fortress” ( 39). The word harem however does not necessarily means being restricted to existing within the family compound. Fatima’s grandmother, Yasmina, also lives in a harem but she has the freedom to go wherever she wants. She even climbs trees (30), rides horses, and goes fishing and swimming (39). The Harem in the city does keep the women behind doors. The main difference between the harems is weather they are urban or not. In urban cities harems are considerably more restrictive. Once girls become women they are not allowed to freely walk on the streets (116). The Mernissi women are constantly struggling to overcome their powerlessness and the despair caused by their lack of freedom. Even though they have wonderful moments together, they cannot be completely happy because they are forced to confinment within the area of the household.
Within the house, however, they do have certain privileges that are outside of the realm of men: the terrace (189). Although the men’s living room is more luxurious than the women’s areas, the women share the terrace and there, they give each other strength through story-telling. They...