Friday, December 9, 2011

Backstabbing Yourself Sounds Difficult

We talked in class about how one of Kochan’s main problems is his disconnect from other people, and his belief that he is different and everyone else is the same. I’ve been wondering if his inability to relate to people is because he thinks he already knows he can’t fit in. Because he “knows” that everyone else is normal, and he “knows” that he is special and separate, he can’t figure out how to fit in. When everyone else his age was worried about fitting in, growing up, and their development of a sexual identity, Kochan was moping around already knowing the answers to life’s questions. He enjoyed his dark inner world too much to realize just how much of his reality he had made up to fit his tragederian aesthetics. Ironically he missed out on the self-discovery phase of development because he was too busy reinforcing his immature conclusions and reflecting on how much smarter and more mature than his peers he considered himself.  In a cruel twist of fate, this troubled, lonely, self-doubting guy was perhaps done in by his haughty, erroneous conclusions.

Lesser Evil?

In our last class, I had a thought comparing Kochan to Mustafa that I’ve been mulling over. In many ways they are very different, but in others they seem to run parallel. Kochan’s use of Sonoko as both a cover and as a self-esteem car jack is like a shadow of Mustafa’s use and abuse of lonely British women. Both of these dastardly deeds come as a symptom of their inability to fit into society. They share a feeling of being apart from everyone around them because they’re so special, and maybe the lingering doubt that they’re different because they’re freaks, as well. Kochan’s vigorous attempt at squeezing himself into normality started way earlier than Mustafa’s, but we are left not knowing whether his head start lead him to success, or if he ended up bunking with Mustafa and the fishes. Though both are damaged individuals, I feel obligated to point out that Kochan was mostly self-destructive, while Mustafa had a tendency to stroll through life demolishing people to try to make himself feel better. So, as selfish as Kochan acts, I have to admit that, with his detachment and twisted fantasies of violence, he could have been a whole lot worse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mustafa Sa'eed and/or/is the Main Character

The narrator in Season of Migration to the North is a rather muted character, with a weak identity, especially next to the enigmatic, possibly sociopathic, Mustafa Sa’eed. As a person, the narrator seems to have no strong goals or convictions for most of his life; we don’t even get his name. It seems that even in his own life, he was looking at Mustafa as the main character, himslef a flat background character. The narrator goes to college in England for a number of years, but comes back with an impractical degree that he never really does anything with other than get an education-related government post. When he returns home, he quickly becomes engulfed in the mysterious Mustafa, convincing him to provide a life story. When Mustafa dies (probably), the narrator becomes the guardian of his sons and is left with all Mustafa’s possessions, as well as a burgeoning crush on his wife, Hosna. Throughout the years, the weight of Mustafa’s life begins to weigh on the narrator’s sense of self. Combined with his growing detachment for his home village and affinity for English customs, it was becoming all too easy for him to jump into Mustafa's shoes. (Which we are later lead to suspect is just what the dearly departed intended). By the end of the book, he has begun to blur the line between “I” and the memories of Mustafa’s life that he has been gathering. If he had survived the end of the book without his moment of realization, I think he very well may have slipped into Mustafa’s life to an unsettling degree.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If only everyone was like me... Well, the me I think I am

Samad spends a large portion of the book being very loud and indignant about his religion, but lacks the conviction to personally follow through on his own ideals. When his sons are in elementary school, he rails against the PTA for the distribution of school holidays. Samad proclaims that there are too many Christian holidays, and that the “Pagan” Christian events such as the “Harvest Festival” should be removed and replaced by additional Muslim holidays. Although this shows the white, Christian dominated Western culture; it also shows that most people have no problem with an imbalance as long as they are the ones with the more or the better. Meanwhile, Samad completely disregards, and, in fact, belittles the fact that the Harvest Festival has students donate food to the elderly. He constantly berates Alsana for not being Muslim enough, for example at one point he is outraged by her outfit of British running shoes, a Muslim sari, and an African headscarf. This was in spite of the fact that he was, at the time, wearing a British track suit, and his white mistress’ baseball cap was in the corner, not to mention that he likely had, just that night, drank alcohol, forbidden to Muslims. This culture clash is further exemplified in his twin sons. Deciding that they are too British, but not able to afford to send them both, he sends Magid to Bangladesh to grow up traditionally. Regardless of Sadam’s overbearing ways, Millat becomes a radical Muslim with a penchant for sex, drugs, and violent American movies, while Magid becomes the human embodiment of secularity. Samad is horrified by both his religious son and his atheist son, proclaiming them both failures.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Partition or Not to Partition...

A considerable amount of people in Midnight's Children are staunchly opposed to the Partitioning of India. Many of them seem to view it as fracturing their country, dividing their people. However, judging by the events of the book, it seems India's people were already actively dividing themselves. In the novel, one petulant little girl with a unibrow was all it took to incite a murderous mob against a Hindi street vendor, Lifafa Das, in a predominately Muslim neighborhood. The Country was already fiercely divided between Sindhi and Bengali, Hindu and Muslim, "Darklings" and "Pinkies." The violent, warring execution of this idea aside, could it be that the partitioning didn't divide a unified India, but instead transformed a divided India and transformed it into a more unified India and Pakistan? Or did the partitioning accomplish nothing but hundreds of thousands of deaths and an attack against India's diversity? Perhaps the idea would have worked out better if it hadn't been so violent and forced. Although, to play my own devil's advocate, if it weren't forced, it may not have happened at all. It's kind of a lose-lose situation, in that before the partition, there was rampant hate crime and civil unrest, but the partition itself caused widespread death and loss. It's tough to say whether or not the partition was for the best, since we can't try both ways to compare, but as the tension between India and Pakistan has lessened (haltingly) in recent years, it might turn out alright.