Dreams Of Trespass Report Essay Research Paper

Dreams Of Trespass Report Essay, Research Paper

Mernissi seemed to have a happy childhood. She spoke fondly of many of the

memories she shared in Dreams of Trespass. This happiness was threatened though, by

the more liberal women that lived on the terrace. In their quest for women’s liberation,

Mernissi’s freedom was jepardized.

One of the things Merniss spoke most fondly of was the amount of freedom the

children had. Since they saw everything the women on the terrace did, the children

had a lot of leverage, which Mernissi speaks of in chapter 18, American Cigarettes:

Grownups committed worse crimes[than fooling around in olive jars], such

as chewing gum, putting on red fingernail polish, and smoking cigarettes, although theses

last two took place rarely, given the dificullty of attaining such foreign items in the furst

place…Since we children could have gotten any of the adult criminals in trouble with

Father,Uncle, and Llala Mani if we described what we saw, we were treatted with

exceptional indulgence, and enjoyed an unusually comfortalbe position on the terrace. No

grown up could boss us around without us threatening to realiate by informing the

authorities. And indeed, the authorities relied heavily on us when they suspected

something fishy was going on, for they belived that “children tell the truth.” All the

trespassers, therfore, gaveus VIP treatment, showering us with cookies, roasted almonds,

and sfinge (doughnuts), and never forgetting to hand us our tea before every one


This power over the adult women was in danger of disolving with the more liberal

women pushing for more freedom. If the women succede in getting more freedoms then

they are liberated from the blackamiling children. But this in turn takes the freedom from

the children who needed the women to keep getting what they want. Mernissi and the

other children of the terrace needed the adult women to commit “crimes”, and without

them they would have had the “VIP treatment” they were used to having. It would have

been a rude awakening for Mernissi and Samir to not to have the luxurious treatment, but

It would also be better for them not to blackmail their mothers and aunts. Children should

not be aloud to manipulate the situation to always get their way.

Another one of the things Mernissi seemed to enjoy alot from her childhood was

the time she spent with her divorced aunt, Habiba. Since her divorce Aunt Habiba has

lived at the Mernissi household, and has served as the designated story teller.

Upstairs was also the place to go for storytelling. You would climb the

hundreds of glazed stepps that led all the way up to the third and top floor of the house,

and the terrace which lay before it all whitewhashed, spacious and enviting. That was

where Aunt Habiba had her room, small and quite empty. (17) She knew how to talk in

the night. With words alone she could put us onto a large ship sailing from Aden to the

Maldives, or take us to an island where the birds spoke like human beings. Riding on her

words we traveled past Sind and Hind (India), leaving muslim territory behind, living

dangerously, and making friends with Christians and Jews, who shared their strange foods

with us and watched us do our prayers, while we watch them do theirs. Sometimes we

traveled so far that no gods were found, only sun- and fire-worshipers, but even they

seemed friendly when introduced by Aunt Habiba. Her tails amde me long to become an

adult and an expert storyteller myself. I wanted to learn how to talk in the night.(19)

The times Mernissi spent up stairs with Aunt Habiba were some of her favorite

times. It gave her a chance to explore without having to leave the terrace. Without the

traditional family structure that they have in their family Aunt Habiba would have not lived

at the Mernissi house. Being of a rebelious nature, if it were socially permissible, like

some of the more liberal women would like, including Aunt Habiba, she would be out on

her own, exploring the world and living her stories.

Going to the movies was also one of the things from her childhood Mernissi loved.

One of the things that made it so exciting was the rarety of any of the women getting to

go. The young men of the house went frequently which made it even harder for Mernissi

and the rest of the women and children.

Only when a film was a big hit, and the entire population of Fez turned out

to see it, were the Mernissi women allowed to go too(116)….And going to the movies

was a thrill, from begining to end(117)….Once in the cinema, the whole harem would sit in

two rows having tickets for four,in order to leave the row in front, as well as the one

behind unoccupied. We did not want some mischievous, irreverent cinema-goer to take

advantage of the darkness and pinch one of the ladieswhile she was engrossed in the movie


The whole reason the movies were so exciting was that just going was a huge

production requiring hours of preparation, followed by a large procession through the

street. If the act of going to the movies were to have become acceptable, like the way

Mother and Chama campaigned for, it would have soon lost the magic and excitement

that it held for Mernissi. It would make the trip common place. There wouldn’t be any

freedoms lost,as with the balckmail on the terrace, but freedom gained, the only loss being

the way it had been so special.

Mernissi’s companion throughout her childhood was her cousin Samir. She spends

most of her time whith him since the two of them are the same age, and beacuse they are

best of friends, until Mernissi “grows up”. She looks up to him for his skills in rebelion.

One of my weekly pleasures was to admire Samir as he staged his mutinies

against the grownups, and I felt that if I only kept following him that nothing bad could

happen to me(8)…And then we would scream [when it was time for bed] , and the most

spoiled of my cousins, like Samir, would roll on the floor, and shout that they did not feel

sleepy, not at all.(18)

Samir and Mernissi don’t stay friends though. As they begin to “grow up” they

start to grow apart, when the differences between men and women begin efecting thier

lives more and more. They argue over Mernissi’s new infatuation with becoming a

ghazala, how men have more rights than women, and the amount of play time they have


Finally one day, our conflict reached a crisis point, and Samir summoned

an emergency meeting on the forbidden terrace, where he explained to me that if I kept

dropping out for two days in a row to take part in the grownup’s beauty treatments, and

attend our terrace sessions with smelly oily masks allover my face and hair, he was going

to look for another games partner.(220)

This tension caused Mernissi alot of worry in how to handle her conflict with

Samir, when he tells her that what she thinks is incredibly important, he find to be trivial.

Finaly he gives her an ultimatum “You have to choose now. I can’t go on being lonely for

two days at a time with no one to play with.”(220) She then quickly replies “Skin first!

Samir.” “With those fatal words which were to bring about big changes in my life, I

proceeded down the shakey laundry poles. Samir held them for me without a word. Once

down, I held them for him, and he slid down in silence. We stood facing each other for a

while, and then shook hands with a great deal of solemnity, just as we had seen Father and

Uncle do…Then we parted in awesome silence.”(221)

Mernissi and Samir’s friendship is not so much threatened by the liberal women of

the Mernissi household, but hindered by the lack of it. If there had been a little more of a

push from the liberals towards the two children not to let their differences seperate them,

then they would have had an easier time saying close friends.

Many of Mernissi’s fond memories of childhood were jepardized by a great deal

by the liberal women at her home. Through all the struggle she still has a happy childhood.



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