Meatless Men in Meatless Days

Jane Porter '05, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2003

Through various portrayals of women in her life, Sara Suleri, in Meatless Days, paints a complex image of the female in Pakistani society. Her interactions, although their resolutions are often unclear to the reader, tend to suggest a demeaning attitude towards men, further emphasizing the richness of the females she introduces. From scalding her brother's genitals and boldly refusing a marriage offer to Dr. Sadik's son to her straightforward and rash judgments of many of the men in her life, Suleri often marginalizes male roles, a tactic that further enriches her depiction of women. Suleri scatters descriptions of ephemeral relationships with various men throughout her text, a technique similar to Bruce Chatwin's collection of brief interactions with countless individuals in In Patagonia. Her unhesitant voicing of opinion when talking to Tom, a male acquaintance briefly discussed in the text, serves as an example of Suleri's attitude towards men:

"You do not have the backbone of a shrimp," I mourned, gazing up at the spread-sheet of that man mountain. "You have a head the size of a bowl of porridge and a brain the size of a pea." This was in a restaurant. I was surprised beyond measure when that big head bent back and wept, a quick summer shower of tears. By the time he left, all surfaces were absolutely dry. [p.38]

Why does Suleri interject such details about brief relationships with men throughout her text? How does this technique impact her overall voice?

Does Suleri's inclusion of such statements loaded with resentment place a distance between herself and the reader? Why might such a distance be significant to our overall conception of this text?

In her section on Mustakori, Suleri introduces Dale, stating in parentheses, "Dale: if you will stay now, within the privacy of parentheses, then I'll not again disturb the ways you are invisible between us" (p.46). Why does Suleri explicitly choose to address Dale and furthermore, why does she make reference to her stylistic use of parentheses in this passage? Is this a technique emulated throughout the text?

Main Screen Pakistan Sara Suleri Meatless Days Leading Questions

Last modified 4 December 2003