How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?

by

Moustafa Bayoumi

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After raising her daughters with “the simple values of honesty, compassion, and the protection of [their] honor,” Rasha’s mother suddenly finds herself detained without charge alongside them in a New Jersey jail after September 11. She is frightened and frail in detention, and although she grows close to a few of the other inmates, Rasha and Reem focus their energies on looking out for her.
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Rasha’s mother Character Timeline in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?

The timeline below shows where the character Rasha’s mother appears in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Rasha
Arab American Identities Theme Icon
Faith, Tradition, and Islam Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Justice, Activism, and the Future of American Democracy Theme Icon
...works his way up at a discount clothing store in New York. Rasha asks her mother about Christmas and learns about her Muslim identity—while the family is not devout, Rasha’s mother... (full context)
Arab American Identities Theme Icon
...a house in Bay Ridge; in September 2001, she begins college. On September 11, Rasha’s mother says she cannot go to school because the subway is broken—there has been an “accident... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Foreign Policy Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Rasha, her mother, and her older sister Reem go to Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, where they... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Foreign Policy Theme Icon
Faith, Tradition, and Islam Theme Icon
Justice, Activism, and the Future of American Democracy Theme Icon
Rasha watches her mother pray and befriend other inmates. Meanwhile, Rasha grows closer to her sister Reem, with whom... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Foreign Policy Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Justice, Activism, and the Future of American Democracy Theme Icon
Helping their mother keeps Rasha and Reem sane—when a tyrannical counselor denies her the right to call her... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Foreign Policy Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Justice, Activism, and the Future of American Democracy Theme Icon
...at dinner with her friends, Rasha is astonished to see the counselor who made her mother cry in prison sitting at a nearby table with his family. She goes up to... (full context)