Comparative Essay - Part 2


The Apricots on the Nile memoir tells an account on Colette Rossant’s life - Comparative Essay introduction. Colette Rossant spent her life Egypt from her young age of around five years and precisely living in Cairo the city with her parents (Rossant Colette, 2004). She lives with her wealthy Egyptian – Jewish father and a stunning French mother – who lives a comfy inoperative life (Rossant Colette, 2004).

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            The memoirs are characterized by hidden disparagement for her mother who leaves for France after the death of Colette’s father from an enormous stroke (Rossant Colette, 2004). Colette is left behind by her mother under the care of her grandparents. Her abandonment by both parents (father’s death and mother’s departure for France) gives way a feeling of emotional turmoil, discomforts and unrests (Rossant Colette, 2004).

            As the grandparents take care of her the emotional turmoil and unrests keep on fading away (Rossant Colette, 2004). As she goes on she develops a great of interest in cooking. Through the grandparents and the staff in absence of the playmates she works in the kitchen until she gradually gets interest in Egyptian dishes (Rossant Colette, 2004). Soon after she turns fifteen her mother takes her from her Egyptian family and takes her to France – Paris for the need of better education while Colette sees her mother’s decision as ploy (Rossant Colette, 2004).

            On the other hand zigzag tells an entwining tale of an American writer – Eric a researcher and a writer on immigration, his girlfriend Em a medical reseacher and a widowed queen of the Sierra, Dona Vera (Desai Anita, 2004). Eric accompanies his girlfriend to Mexico where he ends up being interested in country and its history. On his trip there he is in search of his family history leading him to a mining town where his grandfather used to work before the appearance of the Pancho Villa and his revolution (Desai Anita, 2004). Now, in place of the Cornish workers, the native Huichol Indians suffer the cruelty of the mines from dona vera, widow of a mining baron, as she fights in preserving the Huichol culture (Desai Anita, 2004). The meeting of the characters is occasioned by on the Day of the Dead, where Eric is forced to face both his past and present (Desai Anita, 2004).

Comparisons and Contrasts Themes in the Memoir and the Novel

Painful Past Memories

The Apricots on the Nile memoir and the Zigzag way novel have similar themes that portray in their characters.  They both have the memories and nostalgia that lingers in the memories of the characters. From the memoir the young woman has memories of her past in Egypt. The memory of her father’s death leaves her in a lot of despair. It’s clear that she faces an emotional turmoil even more after her mother left for France. On the other hand in Zig Zag way novel Eric’s father has some memories too; that Eric could not have told. “…when they died, his father had gone alone to their funerals in a churchyard in the deep, narrow valley in Cornwall where he had grown up. He had spoken of it rarely, whether because he had memories that pained him or because of his natural reticence, Eric could not tell.” (Desai Anita, Pg 29, 2004).

From the tales and the memoirs there are distinctive similarities set up by the authors to elaborate and instruct the audience through different scenes and set ups that artistically form the real picture in the plot. From the memoirs and the tales it is right to say that “Memories and nostalgia had to be abandoned, like excess baggage,” if one is to complete the process of emigration and start a new beginning in a new world. (Desai Anita, Pg 29, 2004).

Cruelty and selfishness in women – Colette’s mother and Dona Vera

            The Apricots on the Nile clearly shows the cruelty of a woman – Colette’s mother who leaves her daughter back for France. This in turn had a major impact on Colette’s life that she ended up being in bad emotional state. its selfish for what Colette’s mother did since it was not an appropriate and concrete reason that made her leave, to be precise she lived an aimless life that had no direction.

             On the other hand in Zig Zag way novel Dona Vera is a cruel and irresponsible woman. Her attitude towards her assistants is not remarkable, as she perceives herself as the queen who has everything that a person needs. She lives lavishly and feels that she owns everything and everyone.

Rich European heritage widows full of control and power

            Colette’s mother is a widow and full of control over her daughter’s life. After leaving for France for years, she comes back for her daughter; her daughter feels that coming back for her is pretext and pretence. Colette’s mother is rich who also has the European heritage a French native woman. This portrays her as a tyrant woman that would use what she has to get what she wants.

            Dona Vera is a widow of a bereaved miner baron. She is powerful and everyone around the locality knows about her. “As they rounded the lake and got closer, Eric made out horses in a corral below the hacienda, unexpectedly alive and mobile. That’s where Dona Vera lives? He murmured to himself than his companion….” (Desai Anita, Pg 37, 2004).

            Dona Vera has a lot of entangling character being onetime Viennese dancer who runs a hacienda doubling as an ethnological research institute, despite never having published anything herself.  From the memoir and the novel we it’s evidently that people will keep on criticizing themselves for repetitively permitting themselves to “be led by tyrannical people with strong opinions,” as we can see Eric in the zigzag tale admits that he has “submitted to the spell of a woman.” (Desai Anita, 2004).

In contrast the Apricots on the Nile and Zig Zag way novel have some differences only on the set up locality. The Apricots on the Nile revolves around Africa – Egypt while the Zig Zag way around Mexico. The set up on location is different for the characters though the themes intertwine on each other nicely. Despite the difference in location the authors have deep authorial voices that speak to the audience that challenges and problems have been there on generations regardless of the nationality.


Finally, the memoir and the novel create picturesque and explosive prose that explores the meaning of memory, the power of home, and the bonds between the dead and the living. Homes played an important role in the lives of the characters e.g. Colette was affected emotionally by the death of her father as well as abandonment by her mother especially when she need them during her growth.

Homes and families meant either success or downfall of a character. The dead and the living were also interrelated since that was the source of continual lineage of the characters in the society – either supremacy, wealth, quest inheritors within the character setup in the society as the widows Colette’s mother and Dona Vera.



·         Desai, Anita. The Zigzag Way. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

·         Rossant, Colette. Apricots on The Nile A Memoir With Recipes. New York: Washington Square Press, 2004.


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