Suburban Mosaic

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

by Halima Bashir

Adult Title

Discussion Questions
Tears of the Desert

  1. Halima’s grandmother is one of the more complex characters. How did she influence Halima’s character?
  2. In the book, there are two spheres of influence – the tribal and the Muslim. How does one reconcile one with the other?
  3. The color of one’s skin is a minor theme in the book. Halima’s childhood friend Kadiga thinks that Halima’s skin is too black and that she should wear lots of make-up to look lighter. Discuss the prejudices in the book based on skin color, as well as in your own society.
  4. Halima had a number of siblings. Discuss what was expected of the girls and the boys?
  5. Were you surprised at how badly Halima was treated at the Arab schools, being a Muslim herself?
  6. When Halima goes to Aisha’s house, she didn’t understand why the Arabs had the best homes in Sudan, seeing they were in the minority. She blamed the situation on the fact that the British colonists had given all the power to the Arabs. Why do you think this happened?
  7. How is the word jihad used in this book? Why was Halima’s father against it?
  8. Why does Halima change her mind about female circumcision?
  9. Having read this book, do you have a closer understanding of the conflict in Darfur and the various participants?
  10. Knowing more about the crisis in Darfur, does it make you want to read more about it, and possibly take some form of humanitarian action?
  11. What are your thoughts about Halima’s and other Darfuris’ refugee experiences? Does it cause you to look at immigration from a different perspective?
  12. After the Holocaust, people said that genocide should never happen again. Does the crisis in Darfur involve genocide? And if it does, why isn’t more being done to stop the slaughter?