Essay - Dreams of Trespass Effects of Physical and Psychological Boundaries in...


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Dreams of Trespass

***** of Physical and Psychological Boundaries in Fatima Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass

***** her memoir Dreams of Trespass (1994) Fatima Mernissi recalls her cloistered childhood within the walls ***** a modern-day harem in Fez, Morocco. In read*****g this *****, several key questions come to mind, having to do especially with issues of boundaries, physical and psychological within ***** harem like the one of ***** childhood. These are (1) how did living within ***** ***** of a harem, impact Fatima *****'s psychological development as an autonomous human being (*****, by *****sociation, that ***** other harem children); (2) does a female ***** within the boundaries of a modern-day harem seek to rebel more actively against harem rules, and authority in general, than would a ***** not raised within such boundaries; (3) ***** ***** harem life inflect one's perception(s) and understanding to the world outside; and (4) why do harems survive, and in some instances thrive, in some parts of the *****, while in other parts ***** the world, *****y are rare, if not ext*****ct? Within this essay, I will explicate several chapters of the text, ***** then try ***** answer these questions, based on my reading ***** Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass.

Within Chapters 1 through 3 of ***** of Trespass, ***** Mernissi speaks often of the boundaries ***** ***** inside a harem in Fez, Morocco, where she was born in 1940, and spent her formative years. As Mernissi states at the beginning of Chapter 1, for example:

When Allah created the earth, said fa*****r, he separated men from women, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a re*****son. Harmony exists w*****n each group respects the prescribed limits of ***** other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But ***** dreamed of trespassing all the time. The world beyond the gate was their obsession. They [emphasis fantasized all day long about parading in unfamiliar streets... [emphasis added] (pp. 1-2).

Moreover, as Mernissi recalls, ***** "***** happy because the frontiers were crystal clear" (p. 3).

However, beyond childhood, harem women seem to yearn for knowledge and understanding ***** the ***** *****. That which remains mysterious, in fact, particularly when ***** on 'trespassing" bey*****d the harem are strictly proscribed, grows more compelling to the imagination ***** more it is forbidden or off-limits. Mernissi's mother, for *****, *****s to walk the streets of Fez, alone, in the early morning hours, just to know what this is like. Clearly, harem life for women, presents a dilemma between ***** safety and security ***** the freedom of the world outside.

Mernissi begins Chapter 3 ***** stating ***** "Our house gate was a definite hudud, or frontier, because you needed permission to step in or out" (p. 21).

***** of that boundary, safety inside was assured. Still, the allure of the unknown w*****ld beckons. And not all women, even close family members, are as constrained. Grand***** Yasmina, ***** example, ***** author's maternal grandmother, "lived on a beautiful farm with cows and sheep and endless fields

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