Thesis Statement: The absence of mother in the protagonist’s life in Woman At Point Zero and The Metamorphosis contributes greatly to their alienation.
‘All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my Mother’ -Abraham Lincoln.’1 Alienation: a withdrawing or separation of a person, or a person’s affections from an object or position of former attachment4. Alienation is a key theme present in Woman at Point Zero2 and The Metamorphosis3 by Nawaal El Saadawi and Franz Kafka respectively which is approached in different ways. With the use of diction, imagery, contrast and symbolism, this is greatly seen through the unusual bonds that Firdaus and Gregor share with their mothers throughout their lives.
Gregor from The Metamorphosis was brought up in a society where men took charge, he being the sole bread earner for his family. When he undergoes his metamorphosis, he hates the fact his family has to work and he ‘toyed with the idea that next time the door was opened, he would take the family’s affairs in hand’ (111). The idea of wanting to take control suggests that he disliked the fact that ‘his mother had to do the cooking’ (96) since he had always been the one in charge of the economical issues of the household. The word ‘toyed’ creates a feeling of self pity or grief as it symbolizes Gregor’s attitude toward his change in personality which creates a poignant mood. Gregor is now more alone with no support from his mother as she refuses to visit him too; this creates a symbolic alienated atmosphere which is developed as the novel progresses.
Nawaal El Saadawi shows us how Firdaus from Woman At Point Zero did not share a normal relationship with her mother in the little time that she lived with her. She first notices her mother’s disregard when she tries to seek support from her body ‘and instead of staying by my side to keep me warm, my mother used to abandon me’ (17). This rejection Firdaus experiences as a child is greatly expressed by the diction choice of the word ‘abandon’, which creates a deserted and barren image of how she feels. Firdaus only but once experiments to search for love from her mother, and is denied which significantly causes her to think that her mother had been ‘replaced’ (18). This explains how harsh of a consequence Firdaus undergoes; she refuses to believe in the woman she now sees. This disturbing change in her love for her mother affects her gravely as she suppresses the need to express herself, which begins her alienated journey.
As the novel progresses, Firdaus replaces women she encounters into her motherly figure. When she meets Sharifa, who she worked for, she describes how ‘she opened my eyes to life, to events in my past in my childhood’ (54). Firdaus’ gullible temperament is taken advantage of, without her realization. She believes Sharifa is someone who ‘opened her eyes’ and showed her a whole new different world. The visual image created by this phrase conveys how she embarks on a new journey and sees...