Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey Toward Independence, and Other Stories Summary & Study Guide

Layla Abu Zayd
This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Year of the Elephant.
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Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey Toward Independence, and Other Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey Toward Independence, and Other Stories 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 Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey Toward Independence, and Other Stories by Layla Abu Zayd.

Year of the Elephant is a novella (along with several short stories) written by author and journalist Leila Abouzeid. It was based upon real-life accounts of people that Abouzeid met during her years in Morocco.

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.

The return trip jogged Zahra's memory. She had a happy childhood, though she was raised by her grandparents after her own parents refused to care for her. As a young woman, she had an arranged marriage, without her consent. After a year of being unable to get pregnant, Zahra and husband Mohammed moved to Casablanca. There, the couple became involved in the movement for Moroccan independence from France. Zahra traveled with a wanted freedom fighter named Faqih in order to get him out of danger. Besides this, Zahra smuggled guns, information, and other freedom fighters in her time helping the resistance.

In Casablanca, Zahra helped to organize a women's literacy group and donation drive, with Faqih's wife Roukia and another woman named Safia. After independence was achieved, Mohammed was given a caid, a prestigious government appointment, and given a large mansion and estate. Mohammed was changed by his newfound power and wealth, becoming imperial and adopting European ways, and he clashed with Zahra who clung to her peasant customs. Mohammed responded by divorcing Zahra.

Zahra was full of despair at first; she had no education or skills to make a living with. She remembered she could spin wool, but after many hours spinning wool, she barely earned anything. Several factories also rejected Zahra for her lack of education.

Zahra was eventually encouraged by her home town faqih, or spiritual adviser, and through faith in God she was able to weather her personal storm. She got a job as a cleaning lady, and in the end she vowed to forget the past. She developed an independent spirit and was stronger because of her ordeal.

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This section contains 391 words
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