Season of Migration to the North: Character Profile ¡V Mustafa Sa¡¦eed



Summary of Role:

He is a womanizer and this is seen throughout the novel from the beginning all the way to the last few chapters. Sa¡¦eed is also described to be extremely bright and a very respectable figure in both Sudan and Europe. Mustafa Sa¡¦eed plays many different roles that encompass the main ideas and themes in the story. The most significant theme that is related to Mustafa Sa¡¦eed¡¦s role in the book is the idea of belonging and identity crisis. Sa¡¦eed, just like the narrator, has experienced both the North and the South, and thus plays a parallel role opposite to the narrator as a foil character. Another interesting point is the narrator is often comparing himself to Mustafa Sa¡¦eed subconsciously in the story; and so the narrator often confuses himself with Mustafa Sa¡¦eed because of their similarities.



Quotations & Analysis:





¡§Turning over the pages, I found it was much stamped: French, German, Chinese and Danish¡K¡¨

This represents how well travelled and how exposed he is to different cultures and backgrounds. This contributes and symbolizes to his want for belonging in Sudan and lack of identity.



¡¥I was born in Khartoum without a father, he having died several months before I was born¡¦

This gives us background on Mustafa Sa¡¦eed and segue ways into his promiscuous behaviour with the other female characters he meets in his earlier years.



¡¥It¡¦s a long story, but I won¡¦t tell you everything. Some details won¡¦t be of great interest to you while others¡K¡¦

I find it interesting that Salih chooses to leave this bit of speak unfinished. He is foreshadowing the confusion that the Narrator feels towards all of Sa'eed's stories and 'accomplishments'. The Narrator doesn't really know whether Sa'eed is a monster or a god like figure. This quotation shows that even from early on in the book, Salih drops some hints as to the nature of Sa'eed's life. This could also be read as the narrator forgetting what Sa'eed told him, or choosing not to repeat it. This heightens the sense of the unreliability of storytelling within Season. The narrator acts as the audience's only medium for discovering the life of Sa'eed. He hasn't experienced or seen the stories himself, he is told them by Sa'eed himself. This brings up questions about a fabrication of oneself. Slowly, the narrator meets people who confirm Sa'eed as a womanizer, but we still aren't sure about the truth of his stories 



¡§my an operating theatre in a hospital¡¨


This suggests a coldness and a calculated approach to the way that Mustafa beds women. His sexual conquests seem to be just that to him. He seems to feel no genuine feelings for any of these women. The operating theatre suggests something surgical about the way that he actually finds the women and sleeps with them. It shows how he views his sexual experiences as without passion or feeling, which is pretty sadistic. 



¡§slept with a whole harem simultaneously¡¨

Mustafa¡¦s description of intercourse is a disturbing one. It seems as though Mustafa is attempting a form of reverse-colonisation. When Sudan was colonised by the British, they went in a stole a lot of the natural resources and the culture. He is now going through England and doing the same with their culture and resources. Colonisation is very much like sexual intercourse, or rape. The coloniser goes in and steals something from the country and leaves it bare. ¡¥Harem¡¦ also suggests polygamy, something that is acceptable in Islamic culture. This is used to emphasize Mustafa's roots and how he still has a sense of the East/South



¡§With a combination of admiration and spite we nicknamed him ¡§the black Englishman¡¨.


This represents how Mustafa Sa¡¦eed was accepted in the Western community, but he did not belong either.


¡§We were certain Mustafa Sa¡¦eed would make his mark¡¨

People were certain that he was going to be an important figure and achieve great success. Yet there is a disjunction between what was expected of him and what actually happened. This shows the irony that although he did make a mark, his actions were not positive.



¡§But I would hope you will not entertain the idea, dear sirs, that Mustafa Sa¡¦eed had become an obsession that was ever with me in my comings and goings. Sometimes months would pass without his crossing my mind.¡¨

The narrator doesn¡¦t want people to know that people are obsessed with Mustafa Sa¡¦eed and that he is in the narrator¡¦s mind constantly. This would relate to his inner conflict and envy of Mustafa Sa¡¦eed seemingly able to revert back to Sudanese life after experiencing European life.


¡¥I leave my wife, two sons, and all my worldly goods in your care, knowing that you will act honourably in every respect. My wife knows about all my property and is free to do with it as she pleases¡K to give my family your kind attention, and to be a help, a counselor and an adviser to my sons and to do your best to spare them the pangs of wanderlust¡K¡¦

We see that Mustafa Sa¡¦eed truly trusts both the narrator and his wife. This is significant because Mustafa Sa¡¦eed not only trusts his wife but also gives her many rights that local Sudanese culture does not allow the women to have. This shows that he is influenced by the Northern culture. It is also significant because we know that the narrator wants to revert back to his old Sudanese life, so giving the narrator the role of an adviser and a counselor, Mustafa hopes that his sons will not experience the North and be ¡§infected by the germ¡¨ or will be spared ¡§from the pangs of wanderlust¡¨.



¡¥He was the father of my children¡K He was a generous husband and a generous father. He never let us want for anything in his whole life¡¦

This represents that there was no love in the marriage, and so begs the question whether Mustafa Sa¡¦eed loved Hosna in return. This is interesting because Mustafa Sa¡¦eed was infected with the germ and constantly yearned for the cold icy north, so was this marriage an illusion for Mustafa Sa¡¦eed to feel like he had fit back into Sudanese life?



 ¡¥Mustafa Sa¡¦eed is in fact the Prophet El-Kidr, suddenly making his appearance and as suddenly vanishing. The treasures that lie in this room are like those of King Solomon¡K¡¦

Mustafa Sa¡¦eed is different, so he is elevated and people sort of view him as if he was on a pedestal. Here we see that he is compared to the Prophet El-Kidr, giving him divine knowledge and power. The ¡§treasures¡¨ represent the diversity of his travels and how he is more educated than the other villagers, so his possessions are like those of a ¡§king¡¨.



Key Moment:

When the narrator reveals the letter that Sa'eed sends to him (65). In this letter, for the first time, we see how strongly Sa'eed feels about the pangs of wanderlust and the extent to which he feels this infection has effected him. The fact that he names the narrator as the guardian of his wife and children is also important. The audience is never really sure why Sa'eed does this, and Salih has other characters questions it as well. Sa'eed either believes that the narrator has a strong enough moral fibre to steer his children away from the infection that riddled him or he uses it as a way of manipulating him. If he does do it out of respect for the narrator, then this suggests that he looks up to the narrator. This is ironic, as the narrator seems to want to emulate Sa'eed.


The letter also shows how Sa'eed respects Hosna as an independent person. He describes the British women he sleeps with as "easy prey" (30) yet he seems to have a different attitude towards Hosna. This letter emphasizes the extent to which his time in England has affected his life and tone of the letter is extremely downbeat and cynical. Mustafa clearly accepts that this germ has made it impossible for him to integrate himself back into Sudanese life, which is something the narrator believes he can do right up until the end of the novella. Despite Sa'eed's plea that the narrator spares his children the same infection that inflicted him, he decides that he should let the children decide for themselves.