Irony and Humor as Feminist Narrative Strategies: Arabian Gulf Women’s Literature in Perspective

By Olatunbosun Ishaq Tijani.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 4, 2016 $US5.00

This article examines how, in her first novel entitled al-Shams madhbuha wa-l-layl mahbus (1997, The Sun is Slaughtered and the Night is Confined), the contemporary Kuwaiti woman writer, Fawziyya Shuwaysh al-Salim (b. 1949), employs irony and humor as narrative strategies through which the absurdity of some Arabian social and cultural ideologies and practices are exposed. A three-stage humor pattern—in the “cause → effect → reaction” formula—are identified in most of the humorous scenes in the novel. On this premise, I argue that, although the narrative technique employed and the events depicted in the novel are exceedingly conventional and typical of the masculinist literary tradition, a discerning perusal of its ironical subtexts and humorous aspects will reveal before the reader a mockery of an oppressive social system. While the text depicts women’s overt conformity with the Arabian patriarchal social order of the pre-oil era (prior to the 1950s/1960s), the clandestine actions and thoughts of its rustic, uneducated, and secluded teenager-heroine subtly underscore women’s rejection and subversion of male authoritarianism. Several excerpts from the novel will be analyzed with a view to illustrating a feminist argument that women’s silence and compliance in the face of patriarchal tyranny are not really tantamount to their docility.

Keywords: Irony, Humor, Feminist Narrative Strategies, Arabian Gulf, Kuwaiti Literature

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 14, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.9-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 4, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 579.225KB)).

Dr. Olatunbosun Ishaq Tijani

Associate Professor, Department of Arabic and Translation Studies, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates