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Sandpiper by Ahdaf Soueif

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Helina hein

on 18 April 2011

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Transcript of Sandpiper by Ahdaf Soueif

A tale that crosses the bridges of culture, time and language Sandpiper by Ahdaf Soueif explores the difference in culture between a man and his wife. The setting of the story is in Egypt near a beach where the woman spends her time thinking and contemplating on what went wrong in her marriage. The story shows us the vast differences in their cultures and beliefs and how this caused them to drift apart and fall out of love. Even though she tries to work hard at fixing her relationship with her husband, she eventually realises that it is time to let go. We learn that the only thing keeping them together is their daughter Lucy since she is still young and needs both her parents' support. However Lucy is used to Egypt and its culture and therefore considers it her home as well as her father's. The author allows us to explore her memories of the past and how their relationship gradually came to a bitter end.

Name: Ahdaf Soueif
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Education: Egypt and England

She is an Anglo-egyptian Novelist and a political and cultural commentator which would explain the many references to culture and politics in most of her books. She writes primarily in english and two of her famous Novels are Eye of the Sun and Map of love. The narrative structure includes disconcerting juxtapositions between memory and the present to show the narrator’s state of mind. Her current lifestyle has forced her to reminisce and long for her past life, which highlights her solitude and melancholy. Her yearning for her relationship with him is expressed through descriptions of what ‘used to be’. The dreariness of her present life is portrayed through her waiting for her daughter to finish playing with her cousins and by how she can narrate what will happen throughout her day. Character Analysis: The narrator in this story is unwilling to disturb even ‘one grain of sand’, which reflects her passivity. It is also highlighted in her willingness to move to a completely different country with different cultures just to be with her love. Hints of a more lively nature are shown in quotes like “Oh to play, to play again” which portrays a feeling of being trapped. Her discontent is further brought out by her continuous comparison of her present home and her previous one. She is used to leading her own life (e.g. cleaning after herself and cooking her own meals) which she no longer has to/can do in her new home, nor can she work to pass her time, which leaves her to sit idly through her days and wait for her daughter. Her opinion of the culture grows bitter through time, as it took away the relationships and independence she used to have. This character is presented more dominant, when being compared to the narrator. He is portrayed as having a great attachment to his culture and his family, which affected his feelings towards to narrator. Sandpiper Ahdaf Soueif Dominant Themes The story describes a love between the husband and wife that is formed elsewhere and broken in the husband’s native country. It is the love for him which drives her to move with him, however it is the love for her daughter which forces her to stay. The relationship with him is carefully charted, almost historically, but it is significant that he is never named as it creates a sense of loss to grow at the center of the narrative. Love This is the central theme throughout the story, as her relationship with her husband breaks down under cultural pressures. Returning to the husband’s home country is what triggers this clash. As the narrator experiences cultural pressures (loss of female independence, work and identity), she realizes she if falling out of love with her husband Culture Clash Solitude The Narrator The Husband Lucy The narrator’s daughter Lucy is born in her father’s homeland and it becomes her homeland. The father’s family and environment surround her, therefore she absorbs more of his culture rather than the mother’s. However, she does show curiosity and admiration towards the mother’s heritage, e.g. considering heaven a place where “it will always be winter”. “What point would there be in trying to decipher a pattern that I had caused?” “Rolled in, rolled in” “The sixth summer of our love- and the last of our happiness” “I tried to understand that I was on the edge, the very edge of Africa; that the vastness ahead was nothing compared to what lay behind me” “I should have gone. No longer a serrating thought but familiar and dull” “The meals I planned never worked out. If I tried to do the shopping the prices trebled” “Glad to be of use” “Explaining the inferior status of women” “I should have been sleeping. That is what they think I am doing. That is what we pretend I do” “Everybody else knew they were there and still went about their business” “I picture grey slate roofs wet with rain. I picture trees,… fresh flowers” “She was born here. And now she belongs” “His room”
“I will take Lucy into my bathroom while he goes into his” “I am sick - but not just for home” “A fairy godmother turns into a sad old woman” “My foreignness, which had been so charming, began to irritate him” “He needed someone he could be at home with” “Lucy. My treasure, my trap” “The sand loses part of itself to the sea, with each flow another part is flung back” “What do the waves know of the massed, hot, still sands of the desert” “What does the beach know of the depths, the cold, the current” “His heart was broken in two, mine was simply broken” “Oh, to play, to play again, but my only playmate now is Lucy” Comparisons to other stories... Clash of cultures like in 'A Horse and Two Goats by R.K. Narayan Shows the relationship between a parent and child like in ‘To Dah-Duh’ by Paule Marshall and ‘Of White Hairs and Cricket’ by Rohinton Mistry In both ‘Of White Hairs and Cricket’ and ‘Sandpiper’, there is a realization that you should cherish every moment you have with your parent/sibling because they may be drifting apart Contrasts to other stories... In R.K. Narayans story, the clash of cultures is presented through humor and results in a deeper message about the ignorance of fast-paced societies. However, in Ahdaf Soueif’s story, the clash of cultures is presented through the drifting apart of a husband-wife relationship and it inflicts the message of how important it is to understand and grasp a spouses culture Paule Marshalls story involves a grandmother-granddaughter relationship that grows stronger, whereas in Sandpiper, the author feels that her daughter is growing apart from her Quotes Thank you! By Myra, Helina and Mona
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