The Sand Child

966 words 4 pages
In The Sand Child, Tahar Ben Jelloun composes a multi-layered tale about Ahmed, a woman socialized as a man, who struggles to reclaim her sexuality. Ben Jelloun contrasts gender and sexual orientation to suggest that a person’s characteristics can be shaped and changed by will, but his sexuality is predisposed and will be the deciding factor of how he will act and identify himself within his community. Ahmed, a product of society, is raised as a man and thus exhibits characteristics of a man. To receive the privileges granted to men, Ahmed conceals her feminine physique by binding her chest. Furthermore, her father trains her to be aggressive because society expects violence in men and weakness in women. “My father gave me a blow…and …show more content…

After the death of Fatima, Ahmed’s sexual desires are unleashed first in the form of dreams, then through self-gratification. Suddenly, Ahmed is aware of her physique, searching for the feminine qualities of her frame. “My breasts are so small. Only my buttocks have anything feminine about them” (73).Ahmed finally unbinds her chest, symbolizing her readiness to free the woman trapped under the guise of a man. Her biological predisposition causes her to change her lifestyle, disposing of the years she lived as a man. Tahar Ben Jelloun uses instances of homosexuality to emphasize, furthermore, that sexual preference is inborn and transcends gender expectations. In the men‘s hammam, Ahmed observes, “I later learned that in those dark corners the masseurs did other things than massage, that encounters and reunions took place there, and that the silence was not innocent” (25). Ben Jelloun is hinting at privates scenes of homosexuality despite Islamic laws that forbade it. Homosexuality is also prominent between the women in the novel. Ahmed participates in scenes with erotic inferences, such as the old beggar woman who molests Ahmed, to Ahmed‘s enjoyment. Then there is the circus owner who gets pleasure out of bathing Ahmed. “The old woman insisted on washing Zahra [Ahmed] once a week. As she was pouring water over Zahra’s body, she stroked her, felt her vagina…”(110). Although homosexuality


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