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Zahra, in Year of the Elephant, is the main character of this novel. Zahra is a poor peasant girl living and working on her parents orchard. Her father and mother abandon her and she is raised by her grandparents. When she grew to be a woman she was chosen by Mohammed and had little say in the entire ordeal. She was controlled and used, denied basic dignities by her husband. She was not able to conceive which also caused problems for them.

Soon, Zahra's life becomes more interesting as she and Mohammed move to Casablanca and become embroiled in the Moroccan Independence Movement. She became a spy for them. It is ironic that she was fighting for independence that would never be extended to her gender. Zahra's personality is one of intense belief in herself, a very strong minded individual with a deep rooted sense of justice and optimism.

Does zahra get the prison