Challenging Societal Norms for Female Freedom: an Analysis of from a Crooked Rib

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The novel From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah is set in Somalia during the 1950s, before the country gained independence in the 1960s. Islam was the central religion, and women were not taken seriously and were considered possessions. In this society, women were second-class citizens and often bought and sold, similar to cattle. The protagonist, Ebla, struggles against this social norm, showcasing her strength and revolutionary thinking. Although at times Ebla makes decisions that seem to contradict her thoughts, ultimately, her determination and strength are brought to light. Her marriage to Awill was of her own choice, which was more acceptable to her than marrying someone chosen for her. Ebla believes that in the end, she must have the freedom to choose.

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Somalia in the 1950’s is a quite a difficult concept for people from the Western part of the world to understand. Somalia was in their pre-independence state, which took place in the 1960’s, and Islam was the central religion. Nuruddin Farah’s novel From a Crooked Rib takes place in this complex setting. Women were not taken seriously, and they were thought of as possessions, much like animals. They were considered less than men, and were often victimized and vulnerable. In the presence of masculinity, women were considered second-class citizens, and were often bought and sold, much like cows.

In this novel, Ebla, the main character, was able to struggle against this prevailing social norm; through Ebla’s introversion, Farah is able to show that she is initially thought of as a weak character but in actuality she is a strong character with revolutionary and unique thoughts. At times throughout the novel Ebla makes decisions that contradict her thoughts, which make her seem weak. For instance, she runs away from her grandfathers home because she does not want to be married to an old man, then she runs away from her cousin who was trying to sell her, only to end up married to Awill in the end, therefore forsaking her freedom.

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However, being married to Awill is different in her mind because she made the ultimate decision to marry him. “Enslavement was what existed between the married couples she had met. The woman was a slave. And she was willing to be what she had been reduced to, she was not raising a finger to stop it. But since she would not be able to do anything about it, why not marry simply for the sake of living a married life and thus avoiding spinsterhood? ” (Farah 74) Through this passage of Ebla’s introversion, one would be led to believe that she is just settling for what she believes she can get, therefore making her weak.

But in actuality, her strength and determination are brought to light here. She understands that in the time and place where she lives, she would never be able to live her life as a single woman that has never been married before. Her marriage to Awill was of her own choice, that she made without consulting an outside source, which is why, in her mind, it is much more acceptable then marrying those who have been chosen for her. To Ebla, it is paramount that in the end, she is able to choose freely.

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Challenging Societal Norms for Female Freedom: an Analysis of from a Crooked Rib. (2016, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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