Study Guide

A Border Passage Tone

By Leila Ahmed

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Candid, Earnest

Although there is a fair bit of lyricism woven into Ahmed's memoir, her characteristic style in this work is truthfulness: she's extremely interested in being accurate and fair and in telling things like they were and are. To that end, Ahmed uses language to lay bare her thoughts about the past (then and now) and about her current purpose.

Take this declaration concerning her need to dig to the bottom of Arabness:

I am not here to betray. I just do not want to live any longer with a lie about who I am. I don't want any longer to live with lies and manipulations, I can't stand to be caught up like this forever in other people's inventions, imputations, false constructions of who I am—what I think, believe, feel, or ought to think or believe or feel. (255)

Ahmed continually gives the feeling that she's unburdening herself by making connections between her personal life and the historical realities under which her family operated. There's an urgency to the telling of her story: there are inaccuracies floating about concerning Islam and the Arab world. The stakes are personal and high, and Ahmed isn't blowing her chance to shed some light.

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