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

In 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 ***** *****. These are (1) how did living within the boundaries ***** a harem, impact Fatima *****'s psychological development as an au*****nomous human being (and, by association, that of other ***** children); (2) does a female ***** within the boundaries of a ***** harem seek to rebel more actively against harem rules, and authority in general, than would a female not raised ***** such boundaries; (3) ***** does harem life inflect one's perception(s) and understanding ***** the world outside; and (4) why do harems survive, and in some instances thrive, in ***** parts of the world, while in ***** parts ***** the *****, they are rare, if not extinct? Within this essay, I will explicate several chapters of the text, ***** then try to answer these questions, based on my reading ***** Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass.

***** Chapters 1 through 3 of ***** of *****, Fatima Mernissi speaks *****ten of the boundaries ***** ***** inside a h*****rem in Fez, *****, where she was born ***** 1940, and spent her formative years. As Mernissi states at the beginning of Chapter 1, for example:

When Allah created ***** earth, said father, he separated men from wo*****, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a re*****son. Harmony exists when each group respects the prescribed limits of the other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But *****men 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. 1-2).

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

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

***** of that boundary, safety inside was assured. Still, ***** allure of the un*****n world beckons. And ***** all women, even close family members, are as constrained. Grandmo*****r Yasmina, ***** example, the author's maternal grandmother, "lived on a beautiful farm with cows and *****ep and endless fields

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