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Season of Migration to the North
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Archives > 3. Mustafa's Relationships with Women

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message 1: by John (new) - added it

John Seymour 3. Mustafa Sa'eed has three girlfriends and two wives over the course of the novel. Compare and contrast his relationships with women. Do his relationships mature as he gets older?

Kristel (kristelh) | 4209 comments Mod
Mustafa's relationship with the European women represented the exotic. The one he married was different from the three girlfriends in that she was in control of the relationship and was quite violent. The one he married from the Sudanese village was also violent in the end. The violence represents the clash of cultures.

Diane Zwang | 1293 comments Mod
His relationships with women were tortured at best, something that was hard to read about. I think his relationships did mature over time as he appeared to have settled down to a normal family life in a small rural village.

Book Wormy | 2065 comments Mod
I agree with Diane whether or not he loved his wife he had settled down to a slower pace of life with 1 woman and his children.

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments I agree with all, again.

message 6: by John (new) - added it

John Seymour I think Mustafa's relationships with women are central to the book, but really have nothing to do with women. Mustafa is the Migration to the North, a metaphorical colonialism of England (Europe?) by Africa. He identifies a woman, conquers her, uses her, but never loves her. She is enchanted by his charms, and to one extent or another tries to become what he wants; so totally that when abandoned, they commit suicide. If they do not yield, the pursuit becomes more intense, the relationship more violent. until in possessing her, he kills her.


message 7: by Pip (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pip | 1451 comments I love your comments, John. I also thought that Mustafa's relationship with women was metaphorical. They were certainly not literal! I expect that the passages describing his love affairs would have been lyrical in Arabic, but I found them almost laughable in English. What to make of Jean Morris' goading of Mustafa to kill her?

message 8: by John (new) - added it

John Seymour Pip wrote: "I love your comments, John. ... What to make of Jean Morris' goading of Mustafa to kill her? "

Thank you. I'm not sure. Could it be that Salih is suggesting that yielding to colonial power is suicidal? But did Jean yield? I understand that Arabic is a lyrical, poetic language, and some of these meanings maybe easier to tease out in that context.

message 9: by Patrick (new) - added it

Patrick Robitaille | 976 comments I also agree with John. It feels like colonialism in reverse.

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