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Mernissi and Perceptions of the West

Mernissi and the women in the novel find that more and more harems are being created in the West.  Through the eyes of the characters of the novel, what is considered “western” is automatically deemed as “Christian”.  From the very beginning, we see how Mernissi encounters Christianity when her father explains on Page 1 that Allah separated the Muslims and the Christians on purpose.  There was a reason for this apparent separation and as Mernissi grows up she sees that there are differences between the two.  Mernissi’s father also seemed very against Western products.  He believed that participating in capitalism and purchasing items that were viewed as Western is against the Muslim way.  As a child, it is difficult to grasp the concept of religion and the differences within religions.

It is clear that Mernissi struggled with the division of the two and was having a hard time grasping what it all meant.  It is clear when Mernissi states, “Allah did not favor the Christians: their climate was harsh and cold, and that made them moody, and when the sun did not show up for months, nasty” (Mernissi 93).  Mernissi tried to make sense of the knowledge she had of the Western/Christian world.  As a child, this reasoning makes sense.  These topics are complex for a child so it is reasonable that the child would try to make sense of it anyway.  From the beginning, readers are introduced with the nature of Fatima when she mentions that she loved to ask questions.  Mernissi wanted to ask questions to know the answers, instead she was told that one must only ask questions to understand their way of life.  Thus, Mernissi’s approach to understanding the Western world shows how she wants to not only understand what is happening to her but also to others in the world.

Throughout the novel, we see how important religion is in Moroccan culture and how the differences in religion have really caused Mernissi to ponder about what the Western society means to her.

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