Throughout the course of the memoir, Darina puts herself out there, showing us all the events in her life that led up to her father’s death. She leaves nothing back, no gory detail, no matter how unseemly. One may argue that is because, as her father says, she is a liberated woman and does not care what the public thinks of her life or her decisions. However, throughout her memoir, it is clear from her actions that she is in fact not a liberated woman. Darina may claim she is a liberated woman fighting for her right to do as she wants, but in reality it is apparent that she is still her father’s little girl and needs a constant force in her life to guide or command her.
While Darina’s father claims that he wants to liberate his children, he seems to want to control them. He forbids them from religion altogether and also will not let them enter in the war effort, even though he went to “liberate Palestine” at one point. The first instance of Darina and her father disagreeing though can be seen when she openly tries to become religious, “He was choking and I retorted, ‘You have to respect my convictions, that’s what you taught me.’…’Convictions, my ass, come on, drink, I’m telling you,” (Al-Joundi 88-89). From here she completely breaks down and does what he says, and it is apparent he has no intention for his daughter to lead her own life with her own beliefs.
The influence of Darina’s father can also be seen in her sex life. When her second marriage fails, Darina’s father suggest, “’…why not try women, perhaps that’s where you’ll find your happiness?’” (Al-Joundi 121). Darina has no problem following this advice, and while some people may think she is so liberated that she is fine with changing genders, it is clear from past encounters with her father that Darina just listens to what her father says.
Another crucial element missing from Darina’s liberation is that she is still concerned with what the public thinks of her. When one thinks of a liberated woman, it is of a female that is in complete control of her life and has no regard for what animosity the public may have towards her. However, Darina is still shackled by the torments of name calling and rude gossip, “In the city I was being called every name under the sun and thought I would become a respectable woman once I was married,” (Al-Joundi 105). If Darina was truly liberated and lived by her own convictions as her father wished, she would not need a husband to become respectable, but instead could do it for herself.
Darina’s “memoir” is both frank and deceptive. She bares her soul for us to see and judge, but under the pretense that she has led this trailblazing life. It is true that she was scandalous and participated in many things women typically would not, but that is not the definition of liberated. Darina could only be a truly liberated woman if she chose her own path and did as she wanted, with no regard for her father’s restrictions or societies.