Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Despite the Dawn. To begin, Ahdieh’s strong belief in

Despite the fact that there are nearly 6,264,800 canadians who identify as visible minorities (Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity in Canada), people of colour represent only 28.5% of speaking roles in the media. More specifically, only 2.3% of speaking roles in the media are Middle Eastern (Limongi, Diana). These startling facts should be the cause of groundbreaking change in society. Is modern literature the leader in this cause for change? With the personal influences of an increasingly diverse community of authors, the representation of values such as diversity does not seem so distant. Oftentimes, writers do not realize the significant personal influence they have on their novels. Throughout The Wrath and the Dawn, author Renée Ahdieh’s personal influences become more evident in many areas of the novel. The Wrath and the Dawn takes place in Rey, Khorasan, a land ruled by a ruthless young king, Khalid who takes a new wife everyday, only to have her killed with a silk cord at dawn. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s best friend falls victim to the boy-king’s infamous wrath, Shahrzad vows to get revenge for the death of her beloved friend. Much to the dismay of her family and friends, she volunteers to be the kings next bride. However, Shahrzad is determined to not only stay alive, but put an end to the king’s reign of terror. It is clear that Renée Ahdieh incorporates several of her own social and cultural influences into her novel The Wrath and the Dawn, which become evident through the exploration of Ahdieh’s values of diversity, resilience and appreciation. Ahdieh’s value of the importance of diversity plays a significant role in the incorporation of her cultural influences within The Wrath and the Dawn. To begin, Ahdieh’s strong belief in the need for more diversity in modern literature has certainly inspired her choices for the setting, characters and plot in The Wrath and the Dawn. In an interview, she speaks of her personal influences behind the diverse background of the novel,   “I’m a child of mixed race, and I’ve always been drawn to different worlds. When I was younger, it struck me as odd that there weren’t many diverse books readily available for kids. I know I really wanted to feel like the heroine of my own story, so it was important to me to write a book reflecting people from all walks of life” (Parkin, Lisa). When asked about what drew her to write this specific novel, Ahdieh mentions her belief in the necessity for diverse books. Speaking of her childhood, she talks about how she wished for books that included people from all over the world. Evidently, she is providing what she wished she had for a new generation of kids. The Wrath and the Dawn is Renee’s activism through art. Furthermore, the author uses the main character Shahrzad as what she believes is an important representation for young, daring and intelligent woman of colour. This is evident through Shahrzad’s actions throughout the story, “At this, Shahrzad indignation rose. He might be the Shahrban of Rey and a good deal older than she, but she had done nothing to warrant such disrespect. She was his queen, after all- not a child to be scolded for misbehaving. She strode forward. ‘I did not seek permission from anyone General al-Khoury. Nor shall I seek permission from anyone the future. For anything'” (Ahdieh 99). Clearly, Renée Ahdieh has created a character that is contrary to the usually submissive and meek middle eastern woman that is often portrayed in popular media. Shahrzad’s confident and powerful demeanor dismantles this common stereotype and provides a fierce role young model for women of colour everywhere. Moreover, cultural influences remain constant throughout the novel as a regular reminder of the cultural richness of the story and characters. Through in depth descriptions of the setting, clothing and food, Renee Ahdieh allows the value of diversity to be present in every possible aspect of the novel. This is proven in her profound description of the food Shahrzad is served, “… pistachios, figs, almonds, grapes, quince chutney, small cucumbers, and an assortment of fresh herbs. A basket of flatbread lay wrapped in linen off to the side” (Ahdieh 30). Through this luxurious description of food, the reader is given an idea of the rich culture and daily life of the characters in The Wrath and the Dawn. It is a constant reminder of the novel’s diversity, and it is clear that these common descriptions are included by the author for this purpose of diversity. In essence, Renée Ahdieh’s incorporations of cultural influences within The Wrath and the Dawn are undeniably a result of her value of the importance of diversity. As Ahdieh represents the diversity of middle eastern culture in a way that is not often seen, her value of resilience constantly shines through the her main characters. As a factor of Renee Ahdieh’s social influence in the novel, the value of resilience remains a steadfast theme as a quality that many of the novel’s characters possess. Firstly, persistence and resilience are certainly qualities that the author looks highly upon. It is palpable that unknowingly, Ahdieh allows this significant part of her life to influence the characters she creates. In response to the question of what advice she would give to the world if she could, she says, “‘If the world ever asks what I think, I’d say to persist. Always, persist'” (Ahdieh). These values of persistence and resilience are so important to Ahdieh, that they translates to the unique characters she creates. Her story teaches its readers that being persistent and resilient are important qualities, a lesson she herself says she wishes to teach the world. In addition, the reactions and emotions of The Wrath and the Dawn characters when facing difficult situations are prime examples of resilience throughout the novel. Although the plot presents many troublesome circumstances to the lives of its characters, it seems that they nonetheless continue with a courageous and fearless mindset, often for the sake of those they care about. Specifically when Shahrzad is comforting her distressed father,”‘I cannot. The thought that this may be your last sunset–‘ ‘It will not be the last. I will see tomorrow’s sunset. This I swear to you'” (Ahdieh 7). Despite the knowledge that life her is most likely forfeit, Shahrzad does not seem deterred. Seemingly, she is confident that somehow, she will survive this assured death sentence she is about to face. On the other hand, her father is in hysteria; and rightfully so. The thought that his own daughter will not live to see the next day is inconceivable for him. However, Shahrzad’s resilience shows hope that perhaps her life may not be forfeit after all; shining light on Renée Ahdieh’s belief that with resilience, anything in life is possible. Moreover, for most of the novel, Shahrzad’s childhood sweetheart Tariq is making plans to save her from what he believes is a prison in the hands of a tyrant king. Then, when Tariq finally reaches the presence of the woman he loves and is faced with the danger of confronting this ‘tyrant king’, he is not afraid of the challenge he faces, for he believes that they are all worth it. When Shahrzad explains the danger he is in, this is Tariq’s response,”‘I love you Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. There is nothing I would not do for you. Nothing I would not consider if it meant keeping you safe. The world itself should fear me if it stands between us'” (Ahdieh 268). The grave danger that Tariq is in does not seem to scare him. He understands what sacrifices he must make in order to be reunited with Shahrzad, and he is willing to make them. This resilience in the name of love gives Tariq the courage to do things that people could not; portraying Ahdieh’s message that if one remains resilient, they can fight for what is most important to them. To conclude, as a component of Renée Ahdieh’s social influence on her novel, resilience remains a value that is potent in most characters of The Wrath and the Dawn. The author’s influence of resilience represents many aspects of the novel, especially when tied with gender equality.As a value that is of distinct importance to the Ahdieh, appreciation has an apparent influence on The Wrath and the Dawn. In the first place, the author’s personal experiences that led her to writing this novel have had a definite impact on the incorporation of this value. She explains in an interview of her appreciation for the artistic inspiration that is behind her decision to create a novel based on One Thousand and One Nights, “My husband is Persian; and his parents have this amazing tapestry on the wall of their living room. At a distance, it looks like a hundred different vignettes from strung together at random. It’s actually tales from 1001 Nights. This provided the initial inspiration for The Wrath and the Dawn” (Parkin, Lisa). If it weren’t for a piece of tapestry that she happened to see laden on the wall of her in-law’s living room, Ahdieh may not have ever written this novel. For this reason, it is not a surprise that the value of appreciating all things, especially arts, holds exceptional significance within the novel itself. For instance, subtle remarks embedded within segments of the novel that appear insignificant, have meaningful influences that promote the author’s belief in the value of appreciation. When Khalid doubts for a moment the power of a small trinket in a story that Shahrzad is telling him, she takes the opportunity to prove that even the most trivial of objects can be appreciated, “‘So his question to an all-knowing genie would be about a mere trinket of love?’ the caliph interjected. ‘A mere trinket? Love is a force unto itself, sayyidi. For love, people consider the unthinkable… and often achieve the impossible. I would not sneer at its power'” (Ahdieh 77). The author wants her readers to understand that appreciating even the little things, is essential. This conversation between Shahrzad and Khalid is a reminder that there is meaning and history behind every object; and that one should not underestimate its power. If an object is seen only for what it is, not what it represents, life becomes difficult to appreciate. Additionally, by revealing the past of characters in The Wrath and the Dawn, Ahdieh states her message that art and literacy are important aspects of life and must not be taken for granted;      “‘No. I want someone who sees beneath the surface–someone who completes the balance. An equal.’ ‘And how will you know when you’ve found this elusive someone?’ Shahrzad retorted. ‘I suspect she will be like air. Like knowing how to breathe.’ He regarded her with the stillness of a hawk as he said these words, and Shahrzad’s throat went dry. ‘Poetry,’ she whispered. ‘Not reality.’ ‘My mother used to say that a man who can’t appreciate poetry lacks a soul.’ ‘In that respect, I’m inclined to agree’ (Ahdieh 224).      This statement comes as a surprise to the reader; since it is said by Khalid, who is normally a cold and rigid character. As a result, the casual comment that poetry must be appreciated, has a more significant impact on the reader because it stands out against the other various statements and leaves a mark on their mind. One could assume that Ahdieh has chosen Khalid to make that statement for this very reason. To conclude, the values of thankfulness and appreciation hold an important role in the novel because of the author’s appreciative influence. In brief, the personal beliefs and values of an author impact numerous elements of  the novel(s) they create. It is important to reflect on how authors have an influence on their novels on a social, cultural, political and economic basis. This way, a reader can have a deeper comprehension about the various themes and values incorporated in the novels they read. As Renée Ahdieh’s values of diversity, resilience and appreciation are explored in depth, several of her social and cultural influences on her novel The Wrath and the Dawn become come to light. These influences within The Wrath and the Dawn are crucial to understand. Until the values incorporated as a result of the author’s personal beliefs are recognized, one cannot fully understand the message and main idea of a novel.


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