• Post-Traumatic Responses in the War Narratives of Hanan al-Shaykh’s The Story of Zahra​ and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ​Half of a Yellow Sun

    Ghada Mohammad, Majda R. Atieh (see profile)
    CLCS Global Arab and Arab American, LLC Arabic, TC Postcolonial Studies, TC Women’s and Gender Studies
    Middle Eastern literature
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    arab world, War literature
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    This chapter extends the focus of wartime trauma scholarship to recognise female non-combatants’ variants of traumatic victimisation and agency, as presented in the Middle Eastern and African contexts. The agency of such actors, who suffered tragically from the traumas of war, was inexplicably overlooked in both Middle Eastern and African literatures and scholarships. Thus, my chapter rectifies this lacuna and presents the significant contributions of two female authors, Hanan al- Shaykh and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and examines the post-traumatic responses of female non-combatants in the war narratives of al-Shaykh’s The Story of Zahra and Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. In particular, I readdress The Story of Zahra in light of Half of a Yellow Sun that revises the role of traumatised female non-combatants in collective change. I contend that reading traumas in both narratives propounds that traumatic recovery is never complete. However, the impossibility of transcending the ‘acting-out’ of trauma does not necessarily entail the impossibility of the ‘working-through.’ Arguably, traumatised victims may fail to entirely disengage themselves from the traumatic past but they can still be agents of change. As such, Half of a Yellow Sun exposes the limitation and the failure of The Story of Zahra’s traumatised non-combatant in realising any social transformation. On the other hand, I demonstrate how both narratives construe narration and scriptotherapy, as modes of re-enactment, in relation to the inculcation of self-reconstruction and instigation of individual and collective change. My argument follows an interdisciplinary approach as it engages cultural studies, psychoanalysis and narratology in addressing trauma. Also, trauma theories by Van der Kolk, Dori Laub, Suzette Henke and Cathy Caruth are of substantial significance to this proposed reading.
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