(Dis)Enabling Masculinities: The Word and the Body, Class Politics, and Male Sexuality in El Saadawi’s God Dies by the Nile

  • Sally Hayward


Set in the small Egyptian community of Kafr El Teen on the banks of the Nile, God Dies by the Nile focuses on the Mayor’s exploitation of Zakeya, Kafrawi, and their families. Forming a complex relationship between words, images, and lived experience, El Saadawi makes visible a version of reality that privileges those who can utilize words, images, and material practices to create and sustain a position of power. Ruling “the government of Kafr El Teen” (El Saadawi 1995: 9) as if it were his own personal empire independent of the national government in Cairo, the Mayor uses the word and the image to displace God as the ultimate ruler in the eyes of the community. Superficially, the most “able” man in the village, a “representative of Government” and a “responsible official” (8), the Mayor appears at first to have a privileged sense of identity and a privileged physiognomy. His “deep blue eyes,” which speak of his mother’s Englishness, and his “prominent high forehead” allow both himself and the villagers to imagine him as one of the “[rulers] of [the] country” (12).


Sexual Exploitation Ruling Elite Material Practice Sexual Excitation Mother Figure 
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Copyright information

© Lahoucine Ouzgane and Robert Morrell 2005

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  • Sally Hayward

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