Discuss the role of women
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The most obvious examples of misogyny appear in the shocking second half of the novel, which includes the graphic discussion of female circumcision, as well as Hosna's forced marriage to Wad Rayyes. Although Salih condemns the oppression of women in rural Sudan, his critique is not limited to his own country. The women that Mustafa meets in England are also subject to social restrictions; they are educated but cannot get jobs, and they are socially tainted by their sexual relationships with Mustafa (which partially explains their suicides). Even well intentioned characters like Mahjoub believe that women are incapable of making decisions for themselves. The narrator is the only character that challenges this orthodoxy, but he is ultimately unwilling to intervene in Hosna's marriage or speak out against female circumcision. The earnest, searing depictions of oppression and violence against women in African and European societies are the least ambiguous political "message" in the novel. Salih's portrayal of these issues amounts to a clear call to action against social orders that hurt and enslave women, no matter where they are in the world.