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.