Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging in Tahar Ben Jelloun Novels and Story Tales

By: Maya Hauptman  

Retirement is perceived as a disease by Ben Jelloun's Maghrebin protagonists, male immigrants, who came to France to look for work. Having worked hard and overtime all their life, generally in factories, to make the ends meet, they were unable to develop hobbies or a social life. So, once retired, they found themselves idle, not knowing what to do with their free time. They could not adjust to the new situation; depressed, they didn't find the strength to pull themselves up, and empty eyes, they let death fall upon them. Poignant metaphors picture their mood and their descent to hell. This situation affects the whole helpless family. Age doesn't affect women the same way because they generally don't work outside the house. They go on with their work, keeping busy around the house as long as they can. In his own country, a North-African doesn't encounter the same situation, where retirement is scarce. He will work in the fields or in his shop, as long as he can. In a rural society, or in a developing society, people belonging to the old generation do not retire before very old age because no money was put aside. Another issue we consider is the extreme solitude of those immigrants who return to their original country, build a big house where they plan to live together with their children, but find themselves alone, a machine answering their phone calls. The parents' country is not the children; even less in a mixed marriage.

Retirement, Loneliness, Immigration, Culture, Social Life, Hobbies, Working Overtime
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Maya Hauptman

Hebrew and Comparative Literature, Haifa University, Israel

Maya Hauptman works on francophone literature, Principally on Magrebin and Haitian literature. Immigration, identity, loneliness, racism, acculturation, old age, gap between generations, women status, madness in a situation of oppression, political power, injustice and totalitarianism are at the center of her resear. Her PhD , The influence of political power and traditionalist society on the individual, was published in Paris at Pubilsud edition in 2011. She is also interested in rhetoric and discourse analysis. She wrote about polemic and stereotypes, which lead to a racist discourse.