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Islamic Culture - as displayed in Palace Walk

Uploaded by DeansRedHalo on Dec 12, 2004

When Naguib Mahfouz wrote Palace Walk in 1956, he probably did not suspect that it would win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. The novel has become one of the most critically acclaimed works of the modern era. It has also become a cornerstone in the curriculum of many literature courses throughout universities worldwide. Mahfouz’s work details everyday life of an upper middle-class family in early twentieth-century Egypt. This makes it a powerful tool that helps to explain the Islamic culture through examples. This happens in part because Mahfouz is a practicing Moslem, and also because the novel shows how a typical Islamic family lives and works on a daily basis. There are important elements that undermine the basis of the religion, including the role of women, the role of the patriarch, dating and marriage customs, and also how the Egyptian people attempt to free their country from British rule. I would like to analyze these elements, so that the reader may understand more the culture that is being displayed not only in this brilliant novel, but in the world around us.


Women play a much different role in Moslem cultures than they do in traditional Christianity. In Palace Walk, one of the most important characters is Amina, wife of al-Jawad. She is displayed as a traditional Islamic woman; she is obedient, deeply religious, and very protective of her family.

As a housewife, she is the first to rise every morning, and the last one to bed at night. She prepares breakfast, sees the children off to school and al-Jawad off to work, and cleans the house along with the help of the housekeeper. She takes care of everyone but herself, even though she is the true center of the household, as evidenced when she is sent away by al-Jawad. Even though she is confined to the house by al-Jawad, as the novel progresses she becomes more bold, until her injury on the visit to the Mosque. Her meekness returns, and she confesses to al-Jawad. This is a trait that is expected of Islamic women; they are to be obedient of their husbands, and are to yield to them with utmost respect. In fact, if a woman’s husband dies, she will have trouble remarrying. Widows are not desirable in Moslem...

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Uploaded by:   DeansRedHalo

Date:   12/12/2004

Category:   Religion

Length:   8 pages (1,835 words)

Views:   3317

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