A CULTURAL CRITICISM APPROACH TO GENDER IN MODERN SAUDI LITERATURE: A CASE STUDY OF RAJA ALEM’S THE DOVE’S NECKLACE
In recent years, gender issues have become crucial because they reflect on the cultural structures of society. This study focuses on gender issues in Saudi literature, using the novel The Dove’s Necklace (2016) as a case study to delineate the cultural patterns associated with women’s bodies. This study is also a cultural critique of the morals, behaviours and practices of individuals in this particular society and how women resist these cultural patterns. Notably, the novel presents two discourses prevalent in Saudi literature: a rejection of hegemony and social traditions, and a justification of the stereotypes and roles imposed by culture and cultural norms. Some of the women writers in the Saudi society have addressed various community issues that affect them in their literary works. The society Alem presents in her novel is influenced by patterns acquired from historical, cultural, and social contexts. This study focuses on the elements of fear of shame, the conflict between masculinity and femininity, patriarchal authority, and symbolic violence. In The Dove’s Necklace, Alem portrays Saudi women’s desire to resist and change their oppressive culture by expressing their feelings freely and gathering the courage to talk about sensitive issues. Alem convinces her readers that the historical and cultural context is biased against women, using various techniques to portray the cultural patterns that belittle women in society—primarily the inequality between men and women. She also uses troubled family relationships to highlight the negativity of cultural trends, and introduces Aisha’s letter to depict a civilized woman who makes a desperate effort to change men’s perspectives regarding women rather than confining herself to an ancient cultural pattern.