In her novel, Deafening, Itani uses the theme acceptance in relation to Grania’s deafness to illustrate her growth throughout the novel. Despite opposition from her Mother and Society Grania thrives and attains inner strength and determination in overcoming obstacles and finds power in all forms of language, through her relationships with Mamo and Tress. “It is years later, after Grania learns to own the sign language... M-a-m-o, Grania spells, and she creates a name-sign, tapping a three-fingered M against her cheek.” (Deafening 96-97). The importance of this passage shows us Grania’s growth as an individual and how she has come into her deafness after coming home on break from school. In her earlier life she was born with hearing, unfortunately scarlet fever descended upon her at the age of five and caused her deafness. Her mother blaming herself for this tragedy refused to acknowledge Grania’s deafness and instead believed she could pray her daughter better. She ignores Grania’s attempts of teaching her sign language “I have too much work to do” (Deafening 92) more for herself then an actual hectic schedule. For Grania’s Mother in accepting to learn sign language she will also be accepting Grania’s deafness, which for her is unthinkable. Instead
“When father is not around, Mother prays for a miracle…she feels Mother’s hands on each side of her head. Mother prays, and crosses herself, and Grania goes still and waits to see what will happen, but nothing changes inside her ears…despite Mother’s prayers, Grania is still deaf” (Deafening 97-98).
Mostly Grania’s Mother’s difficulty in accepting Grania’s deafness stems from the society that they live in and it’s shaming of those deaf due to their lack of understanding. Grania in this stage of her life is limited by her deafness and relies heavily on Tress her supporter. Tress accepts Grania whole-heartedly and sees nothing wrong with her “”what’s the mater with your sister?”…”There’s nothing wrong with my sister…she’s my sister that’s all” (Deafening 48) it is Tress’s support that helps Grania in her toughest time. However growing up it was Grania’s grandmother, Mamo (a vital character in providing Grania with a strong sense of herself) that was the first to see how brilliant Grania was and how she needed to be educated in regards to her deafness. She advocated for Grania to be sent off to a school for the deaf, which Grania reluctantly goes to at the age of nine. It is there Grania a dependent child of those in her family, learns to live on her own at school. Not only does Grania learn independence at school she learns sign language, speech and tasks for ladies such as sewing that would help her become a contributing member of society. One of the major roles in Grania coming into herself was the mixture of teaching styles she was exposed to. Mamo taught her the Sunday book and even Grania’s mother taught her also. However whereas Mamo’s way of teaching accepted Grania’s deafness and taught Grania language with keeping the deafness in mind. “”Seashore.”… Mamo makes shore with her lips. Grania is intimately aware of Mamo’s lips-soft and careful but never slowed. She studies the word as it falls. She says C and shore over and over again. She twists the word into yellow rope and stows it in her memory. This is how it sounds.” (Deafening 45).
Grania’s Mother had a completely different approach to Grania’s learning as she disregards Grania’s deafness as she set up activities where she tried to teach Grania through her hearing alone altogether rejecting her deafness.
“Watch what I’m saying. It is dangerous not to hear,” Mother says. “Especially when you are outside, away from the house. You can be hurt. I want you to listen.” She cups a hand behind her right ear. Listen…listen hard. Do you understand? I am going to cover your eyes. I am going to drop this on the floor...try to hear” (Deafening 20) Overall it is Mamo’s teaching that works for Grania while her