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

***** Chapters 1 through ***** of Dreams ***** Trespass, Fatima Mernissi speaks often of the boundaries ***** life inside a harem in Fez, *****, 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 father, he separated men from women, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a re*****son. Harmony exists when each group respects the prescribed limits ***** the other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But ***** dreamed of ***** all the time. The world beyond the gate was *****ir obsession. They [emphasis fantasized all day long about parading in unfamiliar streets... [emphasis added] (pp. *****-2).

Moreover, as Mernissi rec*****s, childhood "was ha*****y because the frontiers were crystal clear" (p. 3).

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

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

Because of that boundary, safety inside was assured. Still, the allure of the un*****n world beckons. And not all women, even close family members, are as constrained. Gr********** Yasmina, ***** example, the author's maternal grandmother, "lived on a beautiful farm with cows and *****ep and endless fields


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