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The "Motherland": An Archetypal and Postcolonial Reading

of Ghassan Kanafani's Umm Saad






Working at the intersection of postcolonial and archetypal criticism, this article investigates the role of women in resistance literature by looking at a piece of postcolonial Arabic fiction, Ghassan Kanafani's Umm Saad (1969). Rooted in Arab politics concerning land rights and anti-Zionist struggle, the text offers a related archetypal approach to the depiction of women in politicized literature. Umm Saad allegorizes the struggles of Palestinians to reclaim their land. A poor peasant woman, the titular heroine embodies the intimate connection between Palestinians and their land, acting as a helper to combative men and a primal symbol for attachment to the enduring land. Umm Saad is a personal mother and a trope for a feminized colonized territory, metaphorically representing the Palestinian nation and assuming mythological features enabling her to identify with the Earth Mother to send a message against dispossession. Since she embodies positive mother archetype symbolism (the personal mother and the Earth Mother), she acts as a source of fertility and protection. Expressing a political statement via the mother archetype, Kanafani appeals to a basic human need, i.e. the need to settle down in oneís land, which makes woman an indispensible part of the collective unconscious of any nation.


Keywords: Archetypal Criticism; Kanafani; Mother(land); Postcolonial Arabic Fiction; Umm Saad.

Authors: Shadi Neimneh 

Doi: https://doi.org/10.47012/jjmll.13.4.5


Cited by: Jordan Journal of Modern Languages and Literatures (JJMLL) 2021, 13 (4): 681-700


Full text




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