I use theories of the adaptive unconscious and Theory of Mind to argue that Balzac's 1830 short story A Passion in the Desert stages the conflicts of interest between men and women that, for evolutionary reasons, are intrinsic to mating. Such conflicts were exacerbated, in Balzac's era, by the dominant ideologies of manhood and womanhood promoted by Napoleon. Though the story's approach to animality bespeaks a cultural intolerance of Arab identities and alternative sexualities, respectively, it is through the lens of male-female conflict that the story filters other conflicts.

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