Ghassan Kanafani weds literary technique to political objectives in his “Umm Saad” (1969), with characters that reflect the Palestinian condition. Kanafani, a literary and a revolutionary figure in the Palestinian national struggle, proposes alternative ways of engaging the masses in the struggle for Palestinian self-determination. With “Umm Saad,” readers can examine the representation of women in Palestinian literature through the story of the titular protagonist, whose son leaves to join the fedayeen. Odette Yidi David cites the tendency of portraying women in literature as “symbols rather than as active protagonists in the struggle for liberation,” as well as how nationalism has been gendered through the “maternal imagery” of women. Kanafani’s characterization of Umm Saad establishes her as a politically aware agent of change, taking matters into her own hands and contributing to the resistance. According to Yidi David, “This “revolutionary mother” image does fall short in removing the maternal character and avoiding the feminization of the homeland, but still provides a powerful insight into Kanafani’s political thought and literary innovation in comparison to his previous works.”
“Women in Kanafani’s ‘Umm Saad’: How Revolutionary Is ‘TheRevolutionary Mother’ As Symbol and Actor?” by Odette Yidi David is scheduled to appear in the forthcoming Al Jadid, Vol. 24, No. 78, 2020.
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