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Volume :39 Issue : 153 2021      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Laila al-Othman's Novel, Wasmiyya Emerges from the Sea: A Socio-Psychological Reading of the Kuwaiti Oil-Rich Society (in Arabic).

Auther : Nidaa Mashal

This research aims to examine the social and psychological dimensions of Laila al-Othman’s novel, Wasmiyya Emerges from the Sea. The novel can be categorized as a social-realist or as a traditional critical narrative meant to criticize inherited traditions, which have dominated people’s lives. Among these outdated traditions are the obsolete beliefs related to the status of women in society, division of social classes, and other negative aspects. Those features are still prevalent even during society’s transition from tradition and natural economy to a modern capitalist economy based on oil. This change has been abrupt and devastating for the Kuwaiti society and has been depicted socially and psychologically in the character of Abdulla, the protagonist, who acts as a representative of his society.  
Abdulla’s personality disorder and his overdependence are the outcome of such rapid modernization. Examining his story is vital for a better understanding of the realities of the Kuwaiti society, which adopted modernization before undergoing its own modernity. The result, as shown in Abdulla’s story, is devastating. Abdulla becomes a victim of both the rapid modernization of society on one hand and traditions on the other, leaving him susceptible to loss and failure and transforming him from a normal to a dysfunctional character, unable to cope or assimilate.  
This is the message that Laila al-Othman wishes to communicate. It is also the source of her vision and her nostalgia. Through the novel, she sheds light on the dichotomy of modernism and modernity within a traditional society and its effects on social relations. This combination results in a transitional society, which fluctuates between the two realms.
The researcher’s reading of the novel is based on the socio- psychological approach.
The study reveals that the novel has formed a milestone in al-Othman’s work, especially in terms of theme, subject and techniques. This was achieved by applying a group of dichotomies to reveal the defects that appeared in the Kuwaiti society after the discovery of oil. The modernism of the Kuwaiti society was a malformed, material transformation. It lacked actual modernity, which would have created a tangible leap in the country’s infrastructure, habits and traditions, especially those pertaining to women. However, the researcher still remains optimistic towards a new Kuwaiti citizen who is aware and capable of achieving modernity and a reconciliation between the self and the subject. The researcher recommends to further research Kuwaiti literature and to monitor the social and cultural changes, which are reflected in the literature.  
 

Keywords: dependent personality disorder, the sea, nostalgia, Wasmiyya, modernism, modernist, traditional society.
 

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