It almost seems redundant to post on Nazeen’s sexuality, but it was a huge part of the story in the section we read. She not only cannot correctly identify being arroused, but misidentified it as being sick. One of my classmates was amazed by the innocence this portrays, and I am as well. However, we are reading this book from Nazeen’s point of view, therefore it is only natural to put ourselves in her shoes… If I am completely honest, I have to admit that if I had grown up in her culture, with the expectations on women with in that culture, I’m completely convinced that I would have thought the same thing! Perhaps that is too personal, but I feel for the character because it would be so confusing in that moment. On the other side of this, I wondered when I first read it if there was any possibility that she really just felt sick. Thoughts?
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I think it’s possible that Nazneen felt sick on a gut level from her interactions with Karim given the cultural standards placed on her, but it’s also clear to me that arousal is part of her experience in this part of the novel. For Nazneen, who was raised on the idea that these feelings are impure, it makes sense for her to react with illness when those thoughts occur. She can’t simply throw away decades of cultural learning. It has to show itself somehow, and it does; she vomits in the kitchen sink. That’s when she finally comprehends the gravity of her decisions.
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