Non-Western Literature

Discussion Questions for Al-Shaykh, week 1


These questions should be reviewed before reading the material, as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
  1. Explain the importance of the canary to Suha. What is its symbolism?

  2. Suha is shown to have numerous jobs, or at least several jobs are referenced at the beginning of the section. Why doesn't she just stick with one? Is she unemployable?

  3. Suha's job at the store allows us to discover several of the legal restrictions placed on people and vendors due to religious laws. Which ones struck you as being the most interesting, and why? (Hint: these restrictions help show the cultural gap between Muslim and Christian cultures to many readers)

  4. Why is Nur's family more upset that Suha helped Nur have an affair with a man than they are that the two of them are having a lesbian affair?

  5. What is the difference between a man getting a divorce in this culture, and a woman getting a divorce, at least according to Tamr's story?

  6. Tamr's mother is well-known for her tall-stories about Tamr's birth. Do you think that anyone actually believes them? Why do people listen to them, and more importantly, why does her mother keep telling them?

  7. How significant is it that Tamr's mother and aunt come to her shop, and why?

  8. Explain the influence that Suha has on Tamr's life and why.