Zones of Hospitality. Back Matter Pages About this book Introduction This book examines the role played by the international circulation of literature in constructing cultural memories of the Second World War. War writing has rarely been read from the point of view of translation even though war is by definition a multilingual event, and knowledge of the Second World War and the Holocaust is mediated through translated texts.
The protagonist probably "dies," or she projects her own death as an internalization of her father's story about an Algerian man named Bendaoud who deviates from his path, abandons his tradition, and embraces French culture by become a colonel in the French Army. The narrator remembers her father's story while crossing the street.
She is then hit by a car on the street before reaching the family home: Je grille un feu et je traverse. Le Bonheur est dans… La roue de la voiture est sur mon ventre. Je saigne sur la rue. G I cross the street on a red light. I tore my clothes. I am naked like dirt. I am bleeding on the street. I played my cards: but no luck. I am choking at the bottom of an inkwell. In the midst of the discontinuity and non-linearity of the narrative in Georgette! Her death remains a question whether it is a symbolic suicide, therefore, an ultimate escape from reality, or an actual death.
[PriEre d'insErer pour “...hurle à la vie”, de LEo Malet]
And it is more intriguing especially when knowing that she is the only narrator of the novel. The commenting on the narrator's death is highly symbolic. Having been run over by a car, she is lying on the street and she describes herself being naked like dirt. The only time the narrator becomes naked is when she embodies a Native American character, symbolic of her freedom and rebellion from her father's constraints. She also describes herself as being "like dirt" which is a symbol of impurity. Public nudity in Islam is forbidden, and Islamic tradition obliges women to cover themselves.
The Islamic traditions that were inculcated into the narrator are expressed through her death. She also mentions that she is "choking at the bottom of an inkwell," a writing tool.
The narrator seems to be defeated by the clash operating between her two identities and which are expressed through writing in Arabic and French. The father is not the only instigator of this pressure because the protagonist faces another aspect of reterritorialzation coming from the teacher. School represents secular French society and the duty of unifying all children of the republic in one classroom. However, the incoherence found between the noble duty of French school system and the demeaning discourse of the teacher while interrogating her student creates an ambivalent spectrum that greatly confuses the girl.
Her presence in the school is subject to criticism not to only from her teacher, but also from her classmates. At school, the narrator tries to connect her two social references in order to create her own identity. No, there is a problem! My socks are not of the same color.
According to Michelle Bacholle, each one of these socks symbolizes a different identity. The red color is the symbol of the French nation. The green sock symbolizes Islam. At the time of Prophet Mohammad, Muslim warriors used green flags. The choice of this color is simple. Arabs were people of the desert, and paradise for them was described as green gardens where water runs in abundance. According to the Qur'an, in paradise, Muslims will be dressed in green silk. These two sock colors indicate that the young girl represents two identities, in other words, her body contains French and Arabic identities.
On the metaphysical level, the girl represents loss and confusion due to the incompatibility of the two identities. The two colors are also a symbol of war and the fight for identity. Along with the father's attempt to reterritorialize the daughter, comes another form of reterritorialization exercised by the school. The aspects of the reterritorialization by the school resides in the teachings of writing the French language as a counterattack to the teaching of Arabic.
Je vais pas dire le contraire tout haut. G 30 The teacher makes mistakes once or twice. Everybody makes mistakes one day or another. Here, for instance, I can see it: She is holding it before my eyes upside down. I won't tell her that. In life, the most important thing is to correct one's own mistakes. Et ne trouve que des feuilles blanches.
She finds nothing but white pages. Instead of the assignment that should have been written in French, the teacher finds Arabic writing at the back of the note book. The teacher's choice of the pen's color is not trivial. The writer Anissa Talahite argues that the cultural ambivalence in Georgette!
They are mixed in the water. They have become of the same color! The attempt to reconcile the two cultures, which is symbolized by the reflection of the two sock colors in the water, represents a possibility for the narrator in particular, and for beurs in general, to assume her identity structure in terms of hybridity. However, beurs' combination of the two identities is harshly denied by their parents as well as French society.
Consequently the quest for the self remains unachievable since the concerned parties, the family and the society, do not accept any form of hybridity. Just like the narrator of Georgette! The geographical placement in Sherazade is characterized by low-rent suburbs which contrast with museums and fancy neighborhoods of Paris which are completely unfamiliar to the protagonist. The choice of Leila Sebbar to extract her character Sherazade from her loving, yet confining home environment is pertinent. It makes readers witness her quest to define her identity in the light of the harsh rejection of French society.
In other words, beurs are depicted as a dysfunctional phenomenon of French society. In the novel, the teacher suggests on the one hand that her student can still learn Arabic under the condition of writing it in a different notebook G Here, the teacher shows acceptance of her student's ambivalence. She also endeavors to teach the girl to read and to write, but at the same time, she reminds her that she comes from an inferior culture when she claims that men of her community beat their wives and children like animals G The Alternative of the Third Reference.
The novel is an image of the beurs living in France. As beurs both reject the traditional teaching of their parents, they refuse to assimilate to French society. They find themselves in a position where there is a horizon of ideas and symbols such as Islam, secularism, France. In these symbols beurs neither recognize nor find themselves. These symbols stay at the level of allegorical ideas because beurs fail to transform them from abstract into concrete forms like the metaphor of the socks' colors.
Furthermore, these symbols are not characterized by a specific reference to time or space. It is confined within the limits of colonization and migration. Most of beur authors describe in their literature that beurs parents see beurs as only as Arab and Muslim. Their space is not determined by a geographical placement since their parents inculcate in them the myth of return, thereby preventing them to integrate French society. Begag argues that beurs' relation to a geographical space is the result of their "double identity magnetization": family and social institutions EI By the use of the term magnetization Begag wants to emphasize the level of the pressure beurs experience in the quest for their identity.
They are trapped in a magnetic field with two major opposing forces which are family and public. He adds that the combination of the two gives birth to a reminiscence of origins, some stereotypes and some linguistic neologisms. Begag stresses the point that beur identity and hybridity, the mixture of two or more cultures or ethnicities, are two inseparable entities which means knowing that beurs are immersed into a form of double reference at a very young age.
They do not inherit, according to us, a culture, a culture or a cultural style, but they inherit a cultural myth […] the message that this society France conveys is often paradoxical: attraction and relegation to the periphery […] through a quasi-institutionalized manner, marginal identities are created. Accordingly, marginalization creates an insularization of beurs which makes them refuse the principles of the society in which they live as well as the tradition of they come from. They are in constant search for a third reference as an alternative to the two rigid, fixed, and non-compromising references they are offered by their parents and French society.
Usually, the third reference beurs seek does not necessarily correspond to their culture whether it is French or Maghrebian. In other cases, the third reference could be an expression of religious radicalization. He argues that identity confusion can lead beurs to the most radical form of Islam This desire to belong to a form of religion with which their parents are not familiar is a form of identity expression Wihtol de Wenden. This radical form of Islam represents a louder voice that corresponds to their anger about being rejected by society.
Kepel reports cases of beurs who order their mothers to wear the veil and enter into altercations with their fathers because of their wine drinking habits. This literalist interpretation of Islam is the reason why certain Muslims claim the defense of the religion. Kepel also reports several cases of beurs that joined terrorist forces for jihad in Syria and Afghanistan. In The Attack and The Sirens of Baghdad , Khadra portrays the life of young Arab individuals who resort to terrorism because of religious indoctrination.
In the s, beur literature portrayed the third reference as an external element to the beur generation. In Tassadith Imache's Une fille sans histoire , the third reference is symbolized by communism. I am the daughter of a Red-Skin Chief, my brother is his son and my mother is a queen. Next to me, Mireille is a bum!
The narrator escapes from her ethno-social background and takes the character of a Native American. The choice of the Native American character by the narrator is not trivial. The fact there is no resemblance between the two characters in terms of culture, history or ethnicity is not logical. The answer lies in the girl's will to escape identity magnetization by rejecting her both references, French and Arab, and claiming a new identity.
The narrator chooses a character that is totally external to her background in order to eradicate references that otherwise define her identity. Many beurs adhere to Marxist ideas, they become supporters of the Palestinian cause or Hip-Hop artists.
Toward a New Poetics
These choices of identification do not correspond to French or Maghrebian cultures. In light of Jazouli's observations, the girl creates a third space away from school and home in order to be able to express her feelings. She is either silent or reduced to silence. The inner monologue is the only space wherein the girl finds it comfortable to speak. This third space gives the protagonist a possibility of identification. Escaping the two worlds is a form of a chosen deterritorialzation. This act protects the protagonist from being judged by her father or by her teacher, therefore she escapes institutionalized law symbolized by the school and represented by the teacher, and the divine law symbolized by Islamic religion and represented by the father.
I walk like an Indian! According to Jane Gallop, a psychoanalyst, Freud's concept of pleasure regulates the conception of personality, but it also generates an effect of repetition. Traumatic events, especially those experienced during childhood, are repeated without triggering pleasure. The identification with a Native American is a continuation of the girl's quest for jouissance. It allows her a complete mental displacement away from the pressure lived at school and at home.
Being naked constitutes a break of the repetitive discourse she receives from school and family. Nudity symbolizes the transgression of institutionalized and divine laws. To the protagonist, it is the ultimate jouissance. I am naked as the savages! After having tried to reconcile between the two cultures represented by the red and green socks, the girl rejects both of these cultures by adopting a new one that is external to her references just because this new adopted culture does not come with the pressure of commitment, allegiance, and legitimacy.
Rejection of Human Appearance The protagonist's creation of a third space is a synonym of her identity confusion. Moreover, the third space is transformed into a safe haven in which she finds refuge every time she faces a stressful situation to distance herself from instigators of stress, namely the teacher and the father. The girl escapes to her imagined third space only when she is in their presence.
This very strange reaction is indicative of a behavioral problem that deserves to be analyzed at the pathological level. According to Michelle Bacholle, the main character of Georgette! In his Dictionary of Behavioral Science, Benjamin Wolman defines childhood schizophrenia as: Withdrawal from people and reality, escape into a fantasy world, disturbance in the ability to make affective contact with the world, autistic thought process, muteness, excessive inhibition or inhibition of impulse expression, identification with animals and objects, stereotyped gesture, impassivity or extreme outburst of rage and anxiety, bizarre posturing, and vasovegetative functioning.
Wolman Out if the eleven symptoms that Wolman indicates in his description of childhood schizophrenia, the protagonist of Georgette! In school, she spends her breaks walking around by herself. She refuses to interact with her classmates or play with them. She escapes affection by refusing to touch the gift that her teacher gives her petals of roses G Alors je marche.
G 9 I turn around and I walk around all the time of the break. I am afraid of something, I feel it around me. So I walk. I walk a certain way. One foot after another, of course. But I have a bent back, my eyes look to the ground […] I walk like an old man of seventy […] in fact, I am seven. DG The narrator raises her head only when she imagines herself as a Native American. In other words, she feels free and untied to any form of obedience. But it is important to indicate that she raises her head only in her imagination, that is to say that this form of disobedience or freedom only occurs when she escapes reality.
This form of escape is defined by Deleuze and Guattari by the term "non- formed substance of expression" DG It means that the essence of the girl's expression is not manifested outwardly, but only in her imagination. As for the identification with animals and objects, the protagonist always imagines animals surrounding her. When she dumps her hands in the inkwell, she imagines that the blue ink on her hands has transformed into a "spider" G She also imagines herself as a statue G 27 , and then as a doll G Deleuze and Guattari argue that the problematic nature of identification with animals has an oedipal origin.
The transformation into an animal opens an opportunity for escape. Instead of having her head down and being mute, the girl decides to get rid of her human form. Ultimately, the rejection of her human aspect allows her to escape from social and familial institutions that are at the root of her confusion. He represents a crucial fragment of her identity. His role does not stop at the limits of transmitting values and principles to his daughter, but it goes beyond parental duties since he interferes with his daughter's academic education through the teaching of Arabic language.
As an Algerian who left his village, the father is engaged in the act of deterritorialization. That is why he tries to reterritorialize himself through his family by creating a symbolic environment of his home country in the household ignoring his children's difference. Thus, the father is the instigator of the opposition to society. Whenever she does not transform her whole body into an animal, she fragments and dismembers it. She also rejects her limbs as we continue the analysis of this novel through Lacanian theory of the dismembered body.
The first fragment of her identity is shaped by the family home and the father. This fragment comes along with conditions and rules by which the girl must comply. The second fragment is represented by French culture and is shaped by society and represented by the teacher. As the father, the teacher imposes rules on her student in terms of the obligation to learn French writing. The hands of the teacher are mine. In her choice, the narrator relies on the metaphor of colors.
The fragmentation of the body is a theory developed by French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Through this definition, it is arguable that the narrator is ignorant of her image. Since her identity is not defined she speculates on the nature of her appearance, hence, when she is around the teacher, she finds herself obliged to express her French identity. He adds that for Lacan, the subject is stranded between the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real. The subject is also divided between knowledge and truth. This definition echoes with the protagonist of Georgette!.
She takes refuge in imagination to escape reality and thereby creates a third place wherein she identifies with symbols such as the Native American and the different colors of socks to express her identity. The use of symbols portrays the definition of identity as well as an escape from society and the family home. The relationship with the father is marked by an unusual proximity. He imposes on his daughter learning Arabic using the notebook that she uses for her French classes.
The proximity between the two characters is noticeable from the beginning of the novel when she sits on the balcony for hours awaiting his return from his job G She also waits until he finishes his prayer, observing every move he makes G When he finishes his prayer, he asks his daughter to sit next him G He then orders her to bring her notebook so he can teach her Arabic G With her father, the narrator must block the expression of her French identity, especially when learning Arabic.
Here the protagonist shows resistance to her father by fragmenting her body. Lacan 35 This fragmented body, which term I have also introduced in our system of theoretical references, regularly shows in dreams, when the motion analysis touches on a certain level of aggressive disintegration of the individual. It appears in the form of disjointed limbs and organs depicted in exoscopy.
Accordingly, she transforms resisting the father into obeying him. The obedience lays into appropriating his traits: his voice and his memory. For Lacan, the human being is distinguished by his ability to speak la parole ; however, the narrator is distinguished by her muteness or by the rejection of her voice. Sa voix est magnifique!
His voice is beautiful! The father is described as having a good memory only because he can remember Arabic language. Under such circumstances her quest for the self is blocked. In Jacques Lacan, Lemaire reduces the speech to the diagram of communication, that is, the speech depends on the quality of communication between the transmitter and the receiver. In other words they impose on the girl their ideas by any means.
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Anika Lemaire writes in Jacques Lacan: Lacan also tells us that in discourse the subject experiences his lack of being, as he is no more than represented in discourse, just as his desire is no more than represented there. The truth about himself, which language fails to provide him with, will be sought in the images of others with whom he will identify.
Lemaire 73 Accordingly, identity definition goes through two steps: unification of the body and the speech.
The unified body is expressed through one single coherent discourse Lemaire 89 , but the confusing discourses the narrator is receiving from the teacher and the father prevent her from understanding her identity. And the discourse of the teacher denies her the right to follow the religion of her choice when she throws the words of the Prophet in the trash. On this account, she imposes an imaginary form of herself and places it above her own identity. She has to be accepted by society, but most importantly by the father who is the spiritual guide.
Since the narrator describes herself as an armless girl with a bad voice, she succeeds in constructing a perfect body that allows her to express both fragments of her identity. That is why the combination of the two remains impossible. Speech becomes subsequently irrelevant to express her identity.
Her response to questions, commands and requests by her father and her teacher are always faced with a rigid reaction on her part translated in her refusal to speak or to move. However, the narrator traces for the reader a special relationship that she has with one of her classmates, Mireille. Through Mireille, the narrator finds herself in a better position to discover her identity, because she expresses herself freely.
According to Lacan, the most this relationship can do is to constitute a registration of the totality of a body previously lived as fragmented. Lemaire 78 Mireille then constitutes a post-fragmented body phase for the protagonist that allows her to unify her body and claim it hers. Avec son asticot dans la bouche, elle pleure une fois sur deux. It is sad and not funny living with a lisp.
The relationship between the narrator and her like, Mireille, allows the narrator to reconcile with her body and be more accepting of her own identity. Through the comparison with a similar subject the young girl succeeds, if only for a short time, to access a phase of unification of her body. Unlike her relationship with her father and her teacher, the protagonist succeeds in reaching a certain form of accomplishment when she is with her like which is characterized by more freedom and less obedience and submission.
Verts et bleus. Except they are beautiful! Sports teams in Algeria are always referred to by Les verts the Green. By contrast, the blue color is one of the colors of the French flag along with the red, and the white and French sports teams are also referred to by Les bleus the Blue. As we see, these two colors correspond to the difference between the Algerian and French flags and sports.
For the narrator, Mireille represents the accomplishment of identity ideal. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.