Assia Djebar’s La Femme sans sépulture (20002) / The Woman without Sepulcher: The Quest for Female Heroism

Fadhila Sidi Said– Boutouchent

Résumé


Assia Djebar has earned international attention for her poignant, sophisticated portrayals of female characters. Her semi-autobiographical fiction, La Femme sans sépulture (2002) / The Woman without Sepulture, tells the story of Zoulikha, a forgotten heroine of the Algerian war of independence; she went up to the “maquis” in spring 1957 and was arrested two years later by the French army. She disappeared and her corpse was never found. Through Djebar’s narrative this exceptional woman is resuscitated and her radiant presence is everywhere in ‘Césarée’ (Cherchell in West Algeria), the birthplace of Assia Djebar. Zoulikha’s story becomes a love song against oblivion and hatred. Her tragic fate, her mutilated and tortured body stands as a symbol of resistance linking the struggle for national liberation with that of women’s liberation and highlights the extraordinary role of the Algerian women during the Algerian War.

This paper explores the concept of the hero, more appropriately put, the concept of the heroine in La Femme sans sepulture / The Woman without Sepulcher and investigates how Djebar adapts the motif Journey (Northrop Frye’s element of the quest) to the female character Zoulikha Oudai, a freedom fighter during the Algerian Revolution War. Djebar re-writes history to reevaluate the heroic role of the Algerian women. Thus, Zoulikha’s fight stands as a symbol for other women, the whole generation of mothers and daughters before and after independence. We consider that in previous studies concerning the hero–like in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces – women are relegated to a secondary role. Carol Pearson and Katherine Pope in The Female Hero claim that women are and have been heroic, but that the culture has often been unable to recognize female heroism(1981: vi). Nowadays, however, it is evident that the study of the woman as a ‘hero/ine’ is necessary to a better understanding of not only of women’s writings, but of literature as a whole.



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Références


BROWTEIN, Rachel M. Becoming a Heroine: Reading about Women in Novels. New York: Viking Press, 1982.

CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

DJEBAR, Assia. La Femme sans sépulture. Paris : Edition Albin Michel, 2002.

FRYE, Northrop. The Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957.

PEARSON, Carol and Katherine POPE. The Female Hero in American and British Literature. New York: R.R. Bowker Company, 1981.


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