34 pages 1 hour read

Zadie Smith

The Embassy of Cambodia

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2013

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Character Analysis

Fatou

Fatou is the main character of “The Embassy of Cambodia.” She is originally from the Ivory Coast of Africa but has lived in many places, including Ghana, Italy, and the United Kingdom. She works for the Derawals as a housekeeper, but she is domestically enslaved by them, which she gradually realizes throughout the short story. Fatou was especially close to her father and very protective of him when they lived in Ghana, particularly as it related to his food-service work with tourists. Despite her current situation with the Derawals, Fatou is very self-reliant, independent, and unafraid to speak her mind.

Fatou loves to swim, and her ability to teach herself to swim in less-than-ideal circumstances in Ghana highlights her resilience. Additionally, swimming once a week at the health center is a respite from her daily life with the Derawals. Her relationship with water also speaks to her recent baptism, and the reappearance of water throughout the short story suggests a desire for renewal.

Fatou is very curious about the world around her and partially remains friends with Andrew to learn more about the world since Andrew has access to the internet. She feels tremendous empathy for and confusion about the injustices experienced by people around the world.

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