The novella "Year of the Elephant" centered on Zahra, a peasant woman. At the opening of the story, she had been devastated with the news that Mohammed, her husband, had divorced her. In contemporary Morocco, divorce was nearly a death sentence. Zahra was shunned by the community, and was stripped of all marital possessions, save for a small stipend and a single room in a home she received as an inheritance. Having nowhere to go, Zahra returned to her home town.