The Ugly Bildungsromans- Subversion, dissent and assertion in Toni Morrison and Latifa al-Zayyat

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Hussein Kadhim Zamil
Azhar Waheed Naser
Wahad Khalil Hashem


This paper aims to explore the multiple layers of oppression women go through in the postcolonial, hetero-normative, orthodox, patriarchal society as portrayed in Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel Beloved and Latifa al-Zayyat’s novel The Open Door, which she wrote in the year 1960. It also attempts to understand and highlight how different Female Bildungsromans are when compared to the conventional Male Bildungsromans. The intensity of the struggle which the protagonists of these novels are facing, makes one dub these novels as “The Ugly Bildungsromans”. Two characters from different spaces and different times, Layla from The Open Door and Sethe from Beloved, are discussed in this paper as one attempts to underscore the similarities, as well as the differences their struggles have, while also attempting to accentuate the reasons for the similarities and differences. Both of the characters are frustrated existences due to their social condition, and are required to make choices in order to reclaim their identities as human beings.

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Zamil, H. K., Naser, A. W., & Hashem, W. K. (2022). The Ugly Bildungsromans- Subversion, dissent and assertion in Toni Morrison and Latifa al-Zayyat. Journal Educational Verkenning, 3(1), 28-36. Retrieved from


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