Abstract

This article sheds light on the group consciousness and relational gender identity of the female, Jewish, Iranian-American protagonist of Farībā Ṣidīqīm’s novel, Liora. I build my argument on the work of feminist psychoanalysts, who postulate that—while the process of boys’ individuation entails a fixing of boundaries between the self and the others—girls retain their primary tie and fusion with their mothers. Characterized by what Adrienne Rich and Lynn Sukenick call “matrophobia,” i.e., the fear of becoming like one’s mother, Liora’s relationship with her mother is extremely complicated. From an early age—beginning with the death of her grandmother—Liora feels the need to mother her mother. Notwithstanding her strong fear of becoming like her, she becomes her replica, with the same obsessions, preoccupations, and attitudes toward life. Although at the beginning of the novel, she sets out to tell her own life story, her narrative soon becomes intertwined with the stories of not only her mother, but also other women from the Jewish community within which she grew up. Liora is liberated only at the end of the novel when she realizes that, instead of blaming her mother, she should reject the patriarchal structures of domination that maintain women’s oppression.

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