Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"And everyone died. The end."

So I guess the only thing I don’t get about Seasons of Migration is the reason for all of Mustafa’s girlfriends’ committing suicide (it’s only the main premise of the book and all…). From what I can gather, Mustafa and the narrator are leading parallel lives, a pattern which obviously ends when Mustafa dies, leaving us to see if the narrator’s story will end in the same way. When Mustafa’s wife, who was entrusted to the care of the narrator dies, it is to say he carries on the same pattern of “love” ending in death. The book ends with the narrator diverting from Mustafa’s path in that he makes the conscious decision to live whereas Mustafa apparently chose death. What I don’t understand is the reason for all the suicides or how it connects to post colonialism (because post colonialism is always the answer, duh.) I suppose the women all felt a lack of emotional response from Mustafa, Mustafa felt guilt either about this or his aiding in Jean Morris’ death, and the narrator felt guilt for the death of Mustafa’s wife which all fueled the self-loathing that led to so many deaths but this still doesn’t give a postcolonial explanation. In any case, this was actually my favorite of the books that we read, despite the fact that I didn’t understand it and everyone in it should have been staying in a padded room…    


  1. If Mustafa is viewed as a man from Africa who travels to and is transformed by the West, then the suicides of his girlfriends can be viewed as the destructive power of colonialism. Taking this even further, we can see the destructive power of colonialism on the women of the invaded country.

    However, the suicides also cut both ways, between the West and the East. This ties the two together, similar to the narrator's monologue about the circle of life in both the West and the East, how people in both are "born and die" (5). The suicides of Jean Morris and the other women in England parallel Hosna's suicide in that they are a result of Mustafa's actions. In both cultures, women are subject to the whims of men, including their own sexuality. The discussion about female circumcision lends insight into the gender dynamics of the Sudan, as Bint Majzoub fits in with the men partially due to her misogynistic view about women enjoying sex.

    The suicides act as both an example of the brutal destruction of Western ideals when forced through imperialism, and the near universal misogyny that pervades all cultures, both West and East.

  2. While I was reading your post, I realized another parallel between Mustafa and the narrator. All the women died because Mustafa or the narrator left. Mustafa seduced and abandoned women, driving several to suicide when he left. Hosna died as an indirect result of Mustafa dying (read: leaving), and the narrator leaving her. It was the men’s cold abandonment of the women (excepting Jean Morris), that lead them to commit suicide. Perhaps the coldest of all was actually the narrator leaving Hosna to her fate with Wad Rayyes. Although the idea of their unwilling marriage clearly bothered him, he brushed it off and left, despite her vow to kill Wad, then herself if the marriage was allowed to go through. That really says something in a region where unmarried women are crippled by the cultural traditions and their subsequent lack of rights and privileges. It was interesting when they mentioned how being with Mustafa had changed Hosna, and I would have been interested if Mr. Salih had gone into more depth about why she changed. Clearly Mustafa wasn’t such an awful husband, as Hosna showed much more grief over his death than Wad Rayyes’ elder wife showed at his murdered corpse being in the next room.

  3. It's interesting to me that in this dynamic only the men are mobile and the women are always stationary. Perhaps that's what makes the women's lives so tragic -- they have not possibility of movement, change, development?