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.