Orientalist Feminism; Representation of Muslim Women in Two American Novels: Terrorist and Falling Man

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran

2 PhD Student, American Studies, University of Tehran


Several novels have appeared after the September 11 attacks which
deal directly or indirectly with the effect of the event on individuals, both inside
and outside of the United States. Though, the novels often claim to deal with
the post- traumatic aftermath of the incident, the writers regularly use Orientalist
stereotyping and it seems that after 9/11 this attitude toward Muslims has hardened
and even strengthened the old Orientalist discourse. Besides representing all
Muslims as terrorists, the representation of women in these novels is of significance
as they often reiterate and perpetuate the image of Muslim women as oppressed
subhuman who live in the state of abject slavery imposed allegedly by Islamic rules.
While Oriental women in general and Muslim women in particular are represented
as the oppressed ones they are also regarded as being seductive, submissive and
often an epitome of immorality and transgressive sexuality.
This paper shall focus on John Updike’s Terrorist and Don Dolillo’s Falling Man
as both novels were New York Times bestsellers and both novelists are prominent
figures of American literature. The paper attempts to examine the ways in which the
novelists have represented Muslim women in the context of the post 9/11 novels and
how Muslims and their ideologies are represented with regard to women.