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The Unseeing Eye

In The Unseeing Eye the first thing I found that supported the idea that Islamic men have a lesser understanding, not to mention less respect, for the women in their culture than men in the West do is when the old man questioned how a woman was working in a hospital full of men. The final paragraph of the story also fully supports that idea. There is no doubt that the author supports that idea when the old man asks himself, One eye? How am I to know? (65) when the nurse asks if his wife has one eye or not. Also, when the nurse asks how long he and his wife had been married, and he replies, Allah knows best – thirty, forty years… (66), the author again shows the lack of knowledge men have of their own wives in Islamic tradition, for the old man was very confused when asked that question.

The setting of the story plays a very key role in how the reader interprets the story. The fact that the old man s wife is in the hospital would lead the reader to believe he is very concerned about her, which the beginning of the story shows. That is shown when the man questioning the old man asks, Why did you go in opening all the doors looking for you wife? (65). However, no matter how concerned the old man is over his wife s health, the fact that he knows so little about her is very evident. The hospital setting is also key because the old man s wife is in a ward that he is not allowed to enter. Instead, he must be able to identify what should be a very obvious characteristic of his wife. Instead, it is exposed that he does not even know his wife has one eye or two. That would lead any sensible reader to believe the old man does not know his wife well. The hospital setting shows that Islamic men may care for their wives, but that does not lead them to actually know much, if anything, about them.

Vision is presented in the text in a few ways. One way is the fashion in which the man seated behind the table is questioning the old man. The way he is questioning the old man shows that he views the old man in a confused manner. His vision is showing him an Islamic man showing unusual concern for his wife, which is surprising to the man. The nurse is another presentation of vision. Her view is that women know all about their husbands (as Al-Shaykh mentions in the introduction), so she is confused because the old man doesn t even know if his wife has one eye or two. The title of the story is another presentation of vision. The Unseeing Eye is that of the Islamic male, the eye that does not truly see his wife (or any woman for that matter) as anything more than a mother.


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