Celestial Bodies Summary & Study Guide

Jokha Alharthi
This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Celestial Bodies.
This section contains 514 words
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Celestial Bodies Summary & Study Guide Description

Celestial Bodies Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Alharthi, Jokha. Celestial Bodies. Inverness: Sandstone Press, 2019.

The novel is set in the country of Oman. The narrative proceeds in a nonlinear fashion and examines three generations of people living in Oman. In 1970, Oman abolishes slavery, making it one of the last countries in the world to do so. Sulayman is a merchant in the town of al-Awafi, and he has made much money by buying and selling slaves. After abolition, many of his slaves depart form his estate. Some slaves remain, such as Zarifa, a woman whom he owned as a slave for years. The novel implies that Zarifa may be in love with Sulayman, and the novel also implies that Zarifa may have killed Sulayman’s wife with poison.

Sulayman’s son, Abdallah, is glad that slavery has been abolished. Abdallah attends business school and becomes a businessman in Oman’s capital city of Muscat. Abdallah eventually marries a young woman named Mayya. Mayya is unhappy because she did not choose to marry. Following custom, Mayya’s father arranged the marriage, and Abdallah had no say in the matter. As a form of rebellion, when Mayya gives birth to their first child—a daughter—Mayya names the daughter London. They then have a son whom they name Salim, and a son whom they name Muhammad. Muhammad is autistic, which greatly pains Abdallah.

Mayya’s father is named Azzan, and her mother is named Salima. Salima’s brother died fighting as a soldier in the Omani Civil War. One day, not long after Mayya’s wedding, Azzan falls in love with a Bedouin woman named Najiya, and they begin a secret affair. Mayya is the oldest of three sisters. The middle sister is named Asma, and the youngest sister is named Khawla. Asma loves to read. When Azzan arranges a marriage for her, she accepts. She marries a professional artist named Khalid. Although Khalid allows her to do things such as attend classes, he is generally controlling and self-centered. Khawla wishes to marry her cousin, Nasir, who left Oman to attend university in Canada. Nasir said that he would return soon and marry Khawla. However, he did not return until more than five years later, and when he married Khawla, he only did it in order to secure more funds so that he could return to Canada. He returned to Oman and Khawla ten years later. They had several children together, but Khawla eventually divorced him.

Mayya and Abdallah’s daughter, London, grows up to be a doctor. She marries a man, but she divorces him after he becomes abusive. Despite knowing that the divorce was necessary, she feels a sense of shame and failure due to the stigma placed on divorce in Oman’s culture. Salim grows up to be lazy and unsuccessful, and Abdallah is quite disappointed in him. The end of the novel implies that Abdallah may have murdered his autistic son Muhammad, although the novel presents this plot point in ambiguous terms.

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This section contains 514 words
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