Monday, April 13, 2009

Not As Easy As It Looks

I am still plowing through Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz. I've been at the beach for the last few days, and Palace Walk is not beach reading. The book seems to be psychological insight that is uncomfortable to me, and I often feel lost in loops of thought as I read. I have to re-read and read more slowly than usual. I remember feeling this way a few years ago when I tried to read Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I finally gave up on that. I need to try again now that I am older and more patient.

In Palace Walk, the characters, their lives, beliefs, and attitudes are so foreign to me. I am amazed by the women's acceptance and belief in the total domination of the men. The main character is a dictator in his home, and his family believes this to be the proper role for him and believes their role as submitters to be established by God. At one point, the author compares the relationship between the father and his children to the relationship between a trainer and a wild animal (p. 161). I can see why this cycle of domination took root in society and propagated itself for so long, but I am glad to live in a society that has evolved beyond this type of mindless authoritarianism.

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