” A Wife for My Son” is a well-written fictional novel that takes place in Algeria, where tradition and old customs still plays a major role in the everyday life. The novel is actually a story about many different characters; however, the main character is Fatiha, a young woman who is forced into a traditional marriage to a man she has never laid eyes upon. The husband, who had immigrated to France, returns home to comply with his parents wishes and agrees to this arranged marriage. The novel then describes the many problems that the couple faces. It also shows how tradition and customs of the old life are always in conflict with the modern way of life
The novel above all is a story of how this woman comes to realize the many opportunities that she can get out life, and how she gains the strength to break through the social and religion barriers that stand in her way of her wishes and dreams.
The author, Ali Galme’s main goal in this book is to show the many problems that women in a Muslim society face. He wanted to bring out their feelings and the emotional roller coaster that these women deal with on a daily base. Galme also wanted to be fair and show the men’s perspective and point of view in the story. The other point the author might have been trying to bring out is the differences in how each generation thinks. There was a constant battle between the older generation verses the newer generation and their modren way of thinking.
Galme was able to achieve his goal by taking the tradition of arranged marriages that has been in the Muslim society for thousands of years and show the disadvantages of such a tradition. He showed how this tradition that might have worked many years ago does not always work anymore in this time of age. He also showed the clashes between the younger generation and the older one through Fatiha and her constant battle with her mother in-law. Ghaleme was also able to show the men’s perspective by revealing how Hocine, the husband felt about his life.
The author touched on many subjects in the story; the most distinct one was how the Muslim culture is patrilineal, where the men are the leading role in the society. Women don’t really have much say in this society, and most choices are made for them by the men because they think that the women are not capable enough to make their own decisions. Also in this kind of society men are always superior to women and one can feel this from the very beginning when the child is first born. Parents always look forward to having a boy for a first born, so this child can carry on the family name. One can see this in the story when everyone keeps referring to the baby as if it were a boy. Girls are not really desired because parents fear the shame a girl might bring to the family name.
Another subject the author covered was the clash between generations. For example, in the story Fatiah’s in-law were always in conflict with their younger son, Allaoua who did not agree with the old ways and wanted to break free from the chains of old traditions. It also showed the confusion of the younger generation, for although they didnt like the old ways they were afraid or incapable to do something about it like in the case of Fatiha’s sister in-law.
The subject that the author does not mention much is Fatiha’s parents. Although he explains in the book the reason that her parents dont intrude in Fatiha’s marriage is because they wanted to give her the chance to get used to her new life; however, the author should have mentioned them more in the story. The reason I say this is because mothers usually tend to worry about their children and their well being, and want to reassure themselves that they are doing well. However I didnt see that in the story and especially in this sort of society where parents of both the man and the woman usually meddle in their children’s life
The other subject that the author did not touch upon much was the character, Allaoua, Fatiha’s brother in-law, and the act of rape that he committed. I really thought the author should have gone much deeper in that subject. He should have talked more about the sexual and psychological change the young man was going through.
The other point I thought the author should have mentioned was the fact that not all women face this problem of traditional arranged marriages. Also not all families are so strict with their children. I myself have lived in that part of the world for many years and I have to say that not all females find themselves in this sort of situation. Also tradition does not always stand in the way of the people of such societies, actually some times tradition plays the role of the good guy who helps in keeping families close together.
After reading the book “A Wife for My Son”, I realized how even though the world has progressed in time and we have reached so many revolutionary discoveries there still exists societies that force women into situations they are not comfortable with. The other thing that I realized is no matter where in the world we are, the younger generations are always going to rebel against the older generation and also against tradition. The other thing that I learned is that no matter where we come from we all have our own dreams and wishes that we want from life and we saw that in the book with Fatiha. She did not let tradition push her back and prevent her from dreaming and wishing for a better life for her self.
“A Wife for My Son” has somewhat opened my eyes. I say this because I lived in a Muslim society for years and I know what goes on behind closed doors. I really hope that anyone who reads this book does not think that all people that come from a Muslim society are like the people in the story. Unfortunately, although this book is excellent and an eye opener, I think it will contribute to westerns thinking the worse of Muslims and their stereotyping of Muslims will continue.