Celestial Bodies Themes & Motifs

Jokha Alharthi
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Social Norms

The novel consistently explores how social norms can often be dysfunctional, and thus the blind following of established culture can have destructive effects. One of the most prominent examples of this dynamic in the novel is slavery. Even though much of the novel takes place after Oman abolishes slavery, the narrative examines how slavery has caused profound societal problems both before and after its abolition. Before the abolition of slavery, slaves labored under horrific conditions and were cruelly punished. One example is when Ankabuta, Zarifa’s mother, was “imprisoned…in an ancient cell” (65) for disobeying her master. She was then raped while in that prison. Despite the deep immoralities of this practice, people such as Sulayman took advantage of it for their own gain. The novel thereby demonstrates how complicity and self-interest can perpetuate destructive social norms in spite of their immoral and destructive effects...

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This section contains 2,201 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Celestial Bodies Study Guide
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