Woman at Point Zero

Firdaus is a nervous woman, but most women on death row are nervous, with the exception of the sociopaths and mentally deficient who don’t know enough to be nervous. She has been abused and humiliated at every turn and is so down she may never rise. Her catharsis begins when she is at last is willing to talk to the woman psychologist and writer who listens to her story. She freely admits what she has done and shows no remorse. An uncle has molested her but that is not a cultural phenomenon.

It happens with alarming regularity in most societies. She also has been circumcised, which does not happen in most societies and that is a cultural phenomenon. Colonial Africans were treated by their European masters in just about the same way that the French were treated by the Nazis when they rolled over France in the early days of World War II. Firdaus is not the ultimate metaphor for the post-colonial African woman but she could be the poster child if she wanted.

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Woman at Point Zero is not a novel about colonialism but Firdaus is what she is. She is a product of the era when the nations of Africa were coming out of the shadow of their European overlords. She experiences, on a personal level, the stigma that the African nations feel after their release from the colonial yoke. Ibrahim has pimped Firdaus in more than just the usual way. He has violated her symbolically and he has turned her out to service men sexually.

He used her and treated her like a disposable woman. Men used her all of her life. Her patriarchal society made it easy for men to get over on women without paying any price for it. She does all that she can in the way of revenge, and at last takes the pimp’s life. She not only has no regret, she is almost ecstatic that she is at last going to be free. She sees death as reasonable alternative to the miserable life she has lived.


El Saadawi, N. Woman at Point Zero New York: Zedbooks 2005


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