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Distant View of a Minaret

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Distant View of a Minaret

author Alifa Rifaat

type of work Collection of short stories

genre Women’s literature, African literature

language Arabic

time and place written Early 1980s, Egypt

date of first publication 1983

publisher Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd.

narrator Varies from story to story. Sometimes first-person narrative, sometimes third-person omniscient narrator

point of view Usually that of a Muslim woman, either a wife, widow, mother, or child struggling against the restrictive norms of Islamic society or the infidelity/inconsideration of her husband

tone Serious, solemn, and/or melancholy

tense Usually present tense

setting (time) Twentieth century

setting (place) Cairo, Egypt, and outlying provinces

protagonist Usually a Muslim woman, either a wife, widow, mother, or young girl, except in “At the Time of the Jasmine,” in which a middle-aged Egyptian man is the protagonist

major conflict Woman vs. the social constructs of arranged marriages, limited freedom for women, and the infidelity and inconsideration of husbands

rising action Varies for each story

themes The importance of love in marriage; the tyranny of husbands; the impact of death on the living; the cost of freedom for women

motifs Daily prayers; religion in daily language; widows

symbols The snake; the canal

foreshadowing Varies by story