Many times throughout different parts of the world, a husband of a family brings home a second wife and this would cause some sort of tension in the household. Sometimes getting a divorce between two spouses can be illegal and the wives have to deal with sharing the husband.
Also in some cultures after a divorce the woman can’t get remarried. In Naguib Mahfouz, short story, The Lawsuit takes place in a middle eastern household and depicts life in the Egyptian culture. In the story, a husband of a family brings home another much younger wife. The sons gets angry about their father’s action, the older brother dies in jail after having a fight with his father. Later on, the younger wife tries to bring a lawsuit against the younger brother for his father’s finances.
The author’s explains in the story where the husband threatens his wife with a divorce if she didn’t accept in the new wife. This causes a conflict in the household and the “law isn’t helpful towards the older wife. The author titled the story The Lawsuit, this shows the reader that the story has to do something with legal actions within the society. Upon further reading the story is can be said that a lawsuit was brought up and resistant to the main character.
According to Mahfouz, The Lawsuit, it states “I found myself suddenly the subject of a lawsuit. My father’s widow was demanding maintenance.” (page 1, paragraph 1). So far this tells us that a lawsuit has been created against the main character by his father’s wife. It goes straight into telling the reader that a lawsuit is happening. The title of the story foreshadows the event that is going to happen.
Also the importance of the “law” gets involved into the story. When mentioning “law”, the meaning is how the first wife got threatened by the husband with divorce. The inference that can be made is divorcing of the husband and wife can complicate things and the wife can’t get married again. In The Lawsuit, the author states “Some of our relatives advised us to consult a lawyer, but my father threatened my mother with divorce if we were to entertain any such move.” (pg.
2, p.p 5). The only reason the father threatened the mother is because they looked into the idea of talking with a lawyer. The is father is scared that something financial corruption might happen to him or having a second wife might be illegal. The way “law” is mention is by legal issues and also by society based issues. The legality of marrying another woman and the society based issues of getting divorced and unable to remarry.
In the story there has been many hints about “law” the author uses it a lot of focus the egyptian culture and how they deal with marriage and inheriting of the father’s economic status. The uses of threatening the older wife with divorce, the elder son being money hungry and ultimately leading to his death in prison. Mahfouz tries to illustrate to the reader what the definition of “law” in his story.
For example he shows us that if the family tries anything that had to do with lawyers he would divorce the older wife. But he also went on to describe the older son behavior throughout the story, there was a point where the older son’s behavior had full of rage and demonic characteristic. Mahfouz states “In an explosive outburst, my brother seized hold of a table lamp and hurled it at his father, drawing blood.” (pg. 2-3, p.
p. 11) With is action from the brother, he died in prison. The author gives the reader descriptive illustration to see what is going on in the story and to realize the commonalities of the egyptian culture. Lets us see a little background of what it’s like in a egyptian household. The way the story is being seen is that a younger woman who was poor and used her advantage of marrying an older wealthy man who already had a family. She used the law to support her financial problem by putting a lawsuit on the younger son.
She realizes that since everybody in the family is deceased except the younger son and he has a good financial life, she took that chance to get the money she needs. The story states ” ‘A woman who couldn’t have children, she was married and divorced several times when she was in her prime. In middle age she fell in love with a student, who, in his turn, robbed and went off.’ ” (pg. 4 , p.p.
24) This shows a background information when she was robbed and she needed money to survive in her environment. The best alternative she thought was putting a lawsuit on the younger son to satisfy her needs.