Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah


Alana Valentine

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah can help.

The Deep-Sea Ecosystem Symbol Analysis

The Deep-Sea Ecosystem Symbol Icon

As Shafana practices the school presentation she’s going to give about mysterious ecosystems in certain parts of the deep ocean, the ecosystems themselves come to symbolize her optimism about thriving as a Muslim woman in otherwise hostile environments. She talks about certain creatures that live in the immediate vicinity of geothermal vents known as “black smokers,” which periodically shoot out extremely hot liquids and gases, thus threatening to incinerate the shrimp and mussels living nearby. And yet, despite this constant threat, mussels and shrimp thrive in this ecosystem. The entire idea of this precarious but ultimately productive ecosystem fascinates Shafana, who clearly sees such circumstances as symbolic of her own life: she knows that Australian society can be hostile toward Muslim women, but she believes that she can wear a hijab and wholeheartedly embrace her Islamic faith in a way that will enable her to survive—and even prosper—in an unlikely environment.

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