The Plight of Women in "From a Crooked Rib" by Nuruddin Farah

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1229 words

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The novel From a Crooked Rib was written by Nuruddin Farah in 1968 and was published in 1970. From a Crooked Rib explores the sociological study of the subordinate role of Somali women. The central character of the novel is Ebla. The harsh treatment of women in Somali society is told from the perspective of a young nomadic girl from Ogaden who desires liberation from the sufferings that are inflicted by the male-dominated Somali society.

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By forbearing the violence and tradition that has changed in their Somali society, she manages to survive without deviating from the own identity and honesty. Ebla refuses to accept the traditional role that has to be played by a woman in their clan by opposing and declaring it through her elopement. She eloped to a city of Belet Wene from her clan because she forced to get married to an old man named Giumaleh who is in her father’s age, “But what is wrong in getting married to a man-old or young? Age does not determine the genuineness of marriage does it?”.

She thought that people might ask such questions to her during their travel to Belet Wene and she prepares to answer them with her answers. Ebla is a woman living in the country particularly a desert region. She has been taken care off by her grandfather and she has a brother who had eloped with a man a few years ago. The duty of grandfather was over, he thought, so he and his people planned to get married Ebla to an old man, Giumaleh aged forty-eight. But Ebla was not interested in the marriage and she planned to elope to somewhere else leaving behind the grandfather and the cattle with the Jes.

Jes is a group of people belong to a particular clan, they travel from time to time with their families and assets. The hut in which they used to live will be carried by the camel. A number of cattle are higher than the number of human beings in their Jes. The sons of the families are given camels to maintain and the daughter of the family is given cattle to maintain. Everyone in the Jes is treated like a member of her family. Ebla had a figure of six feet tall which is not an exception there and she had a beautiful face that attracts a man.

As planned Ebla, she eloped during the night and she reached Belet Wene to escape from the marriage that was arranged by her grandfather. Her cousin, Gheddi lives in the town, Belet Wene. A man who traveled with her to Belet Wene showed the house of her cousin Gheddi. She reached Belet Wene and found that Gheddi got married to Aowralla, who is nine months pregnant. When she is asked about her visit to Belet Wene by Gheddi, she hesitated to tell the reason for her arrival.

In Gheddi’s absence, she engages herself in helping Aowralla and served her while she gave birth to a child. Ebla also took care of the cattle and household activities. A widow lives in the neighborhood of Gheddi. During Geddi’s absence, she happened to manage the cattle and Aowralla before the arrival of Ebla. Ebla went to a widow's house, where she found a tall and handsome man, Awill, Nephew of the widow. Awill and Ebla get to know each other.

Elba heard that her cousin, Gheddi had arranged a marriage with a broker, Dirir. He is an old man affected by TB. To escape the marriage, Elba and Awill eloped to Mogadiscio and they got married. After spending ten days with a new bride, he went to Italy on an official duty leaving Ebla in a custody of his landlady, Asha.

She is good-natured women who helped Ebla when she was financially weak in the absence of Awill.

Jama a friend of Awill came with a letter and a photo to meet Ebla. He gave those things to Ebla. That picture which is taken in Italy was sent by Awill to Jama. That picture shows the closeness between Awill a white lady who stood beside him. All the efforts took by Ebla goes in vain. She waited till the age of nineteen and got married to men like Awill who does not deserve Ebla and her true love.

Ebla decides to take revenge on Awill’s actions so she finds an eligible man, Tiffo and got married to him. She acclaims it as a secret marriage. Tiffo was already get married to Ardo and her kids. The next day to her marriage with Tiffo, widow and Ebla’s brother came to meet her. From her brother, she found that her grandfather died due to shock. Other than Asha and Ebla, no one knows about the marriage that happened between Tiffo and Ebla.

Elba hides her marriage with Awill from Tiffo. On an occasion, Ebla opens her mouth about her marriage with Awill, on knowing this Tiffo left her by giving a divorce. When Ardo finds out her husband's marriage to Ebla, She went to Ebla's residence with her people to kill her. As Asha interferes and proclaimed about the divorce, Ardo left the place without killing Ebla but warned her.

Ebla came to know about the arrival of Awill. She made arrangements for him and went for shipping. Meanwhile, Awill reached home and found the photo that he sent to Jama . He cursed Jama for letting Ebla know about him and the white lady. He apologized for his fault.

When he turned around, he found Ebla behind him watching him furiously. Their arguments got worse, at some point, their squabble came to an end. Finally, they reconciled after the quarrel.

Farah clearly denotes the subordinate nature of women in Somali society in his novels. Farah opposes the traditional Somali practice of circumcision and infibulation of young girls. He also strives to make a change in the inequality between the sexes. Ebla, an illiterate girl, from a tiny Jes is unique in her own way.

She is undeniably different from others. She “thought about things and people in her own way” “thought of many things a woman of her background would never think of and had been toying with the idea of leaving home for quiet something”. “She was very much worried, not for herself, but for the grandfather”. Her escape might give a shock to her grandfather. She is actually not worried about him, She pitied him and not loved him.

The women in Somalia like Ebla are predictably naive and are not known more than a hundred people in their lives. There is no difference found between a woman and a goat. The goats are sold in markets for money but here, women are sold for money, which is undoubtedly a marriage. She is betrothed to a man of forty-eight, Giumaleh. The person who wanted to marry her must pay for the camels.

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Though she belongs to the same community, the courage that she developed to elope from her community seems quite a challenging decision. The defining moment for Ebla comes only when she made a decision to escape from all the duties, the country and its harsh life and she wanted to cut off the rope the Somali society that tightens her neck if she marries Giumaleh. Ebla breaks the limitations of women in her pastoral community.

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The Plight Of Women In “From A Crooked Rib” By Nuruddin Farah. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“The Plight Of Women In “From A Crooked Rib” By Nuruddin Farah.” GradesFixer, 10 Jul. 2019,
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