Season of Migration to the North: Character Profile ¡V Hosna




In Season of Migration to the North, Hosna Bint Mahmoud is the wife (or widow) of Mustafa Sa¡¦eed. Her role in the novel stems from the various threads about/of the cultural distinction between the Eastern World and Western World (as this also touches base on one of the biggest overall theme prevalent in the novel), the representation of newfound growing modernization in women in those times, which contrast against the belief and principles of the primitive nature and culture in Sudan, but additionally displays the struggle of patriarchy within.



Quotations & Analysis:





¡§. . . while she used no henna on her feet or hands a slight smell of perfume hung about her. Her lips were naturally dark red and her teeth strong, white and even. She had a handsome face with wide black eyes in which sadness mingled with shyness. When I greeted her I felt her hand soft and warm in mine. ¡§She was a woman of noble carriage and of a foreign type of beauty.¡¨

The narrator describes Hosna as a woman who possess a foreign type of beauty where her lips are dark with white teeth and she doesn¡¦t have henna on her hands. The initial impression the reader has is that Hosna possess a type of physical beauty that is unknown in Sudan as she doesn¡¦t have henna on her hands which is against the tradition. However, once we try to understand what ¡§foreign¡¨ means to the narrator, foreign appears to be a vague and abstract idea for the narrator and the reader. The dark lips and skin contrasted with the strong white teeth shows a sense of African beauty yet the narrator took it as a foreign type of beauty. The fact that the narrator perceives people of his own ethnic group as foreign shows that Salih¡¦s definition of cultural identity is clearly a mixture of multiple factors.



¡§Did you love Mustafa Sa¡¦eed¡¨

She did not answer


¡§He was a generous husband and a generous father. He never let us want for anything in his whole life¡¨

When the narrator asked Hosna whether she loved Mustafa Sa¡¦eed, Hosna did not answer but instead asserts that Sa¡¦eed was a generous husband and father. The desire for independence and individual rights is definitely evident in Hosna¡¦s character. She trusted men who gave her rights and respected her as an individual with equal rights. Hosna was also portrayed as a wild girl who fought against boys in her childhood. The mentality of a man from young age ultimately shaped her unique character. There is a strong desire within her to create her own path and life after Sa¡¦eed¡¦s death.



At last, though, I became aware of her boice in the darkness like the blade of a knife


¡§If they for me to marry, I¡¦ll kill him and kill myself.¡¨

The quotation clearly shows Hosna Bint Mahmoud¡¦s defiance against Islamic tradition in which she was brought up under. It is unusual to find a person who cannot possibly adapt to a culture she is accustomed to for most of her life.



¡§Do you remember her as a wild young girl climbing trees and fighting with boys? As a child she used to swim naked with us in the river. What¡¦s happened to change that now?¡¨

Mahjoub reflects over Hosna Bint Mamoud¡¦s past in which the reader gets a  rare insight towards the young Hosna Bint Mahmoud. She was a wild girl who climbed trees, fight with boys and swim naked in the river. The exotic primitive form of Hosna Bint Mahmoud is completely absent in her contemporary form. It clearly shows she has been through a development after meeting Mustafa Sa¡¦eed. She has developed into a much more modern and rational woman with a Western approach towards marriage.





Key Moment:

The key moment in the for Hosna Bint Mahmoud is without doubt the point when she decided to kill Wad Rayyes and herself. On the surface, it may seem her ambition to commit suicide with Wad Rayyes was caused from anger, hatred and intolerance. Yet this mentality is somewhat similar to the final stages of Mustafa Sa¡¦eed. From the existentialist perspective, Mustafa Sa¡¦eed chose the path of ending his life as he could not shake off and leave behind the infection. Hosna Bint Mahmoud, after forced to marry Wad Rayyes, found it meaningless to continue and pursue another section of life with a man whom she has no feelings for. Her desire to construct an individual path for herself is completely undermined by the marriage, and it was obvious that she would not abide to this tradition. Perhaps this was the strongest influence Mustafa had on Hosna, this existentialist mentality is evident in both characters.