Season of Migration to the North: Motif Tracking ¡V Violence & Invasion




Violent language in Season of Migration to the North is used to characterize Mustafa Sa¡¦eed, introduce and expand on major themes of the book such as colonization. In relation to characterization, violent language early on highlights the emotional detachment that Sa¡¦eed has while also setting the stage for the introduction of Mustafa Sa¡¦eed¡¦s more predatory side. We see through the descriptions of his actions a strong connection to colonialism, especially through his active ¡§conquests¡¨ of women. Through this idea of colonization, we also see the disparities between the North and the South, and this yearning for the Other.



Quotations & Analysis:





¡§My Grandfather was talking to me of a tyrant who had ruled over the district in the days of the Turks¡¨¡K¡¨I do not know what it was that brought Mustafa to mind¡¨

Foreshadow the violence that Mustafa will cause in his lifetime.


At the time of this quotation, Mustafa was still a very mysterious entity, but the narrator subconsciously relates him to a colonizer.




I¡¨I tell you that had the ground suddenly spit open and revealed an afreet standing before me, his eyes shooting out flames, I would have not been more terrified. All of a sudden there came to me the ghastly, nightmarish feeling that we ¡V the men grouped together in that room ¡V were not a reality but merely some illusion. Leaping up, I stood above the man and shouted at him: what¡¦s this you¡¦re saying?¡¨¡K¡¨Pushing me violently aside, he dumped to his feet and went out of the room with a firm tread.¡¨

This is the narrator¡¦s reaction to Mustafa¡¦s recitation of the poem. He becomes irrational for his action and takes what Mustafa says to be reality, thus he begins to react irrationally.


This also shows a parralell to the narrator and Mustafa Sa¡¦eed in relation to believing that their lives are a lie, and that life is not reality.


This is the first point in the book that we see the narrator questioning whether life is worth living or not.



¡§ I didn¡¦t cry when hit, wasn¡¦t glad if the teacher praised me in class, didn¡¦t suffer from the things the rest did¡¨

This shows characterization of Mustafa SA¡¦eed and demonstrates his emotional detachment from the rest of his peers.



¡§My mind was like a sharp knife, cutting with cold effectiveness.¡¨

This leads to the calculating manipulative side of Mustafa Sa¡¦eed. This is also a foreshadowing his education that he will soon get from the North.



My bedroom became a theater of war; my bed a patch of hell. When I grasped her it was like grasping at the clouds, like bedding a shooting-star, like mounting the back of a Prussian military march. I would stay awake all night warring with bow and sword and spear and arrows, and in the morning I would see the smile unchanged and would know that once again I had lost the combat.¡¨


Jean Morris and Mustafa Sa¡¦eed both come to their relationship with ideals and culture from their respective geographical locations ¡V The north and the south. When they are in bed with each other, it is no longer a simple physical act, but also a political act of colonizing each other.


¡§But until the meek inherit the earth, until the armies are disbanded, the lamb grazes in peace beside the wolf and child plays water-polo in the river with the crocodile, until that time of happiness and love comes along, I for one shall continue to express myself in this twisted manner. And when, puffing I reach the mountain peak and implant the banner, collect my breath and rest ¡V that, my lady, is an ecstasy greater to me than love, than happiness.¡¨

This quotation evokes the idea of colonization in relation to Mustafa Sa¡¦eed. We have seen that Mustafa acknowledges his predatory nature, and here it is highlighted again as he essentially says that until all is peaceful and harmonious (which will never happen) he will ¡§continue to express [himself] in this twisted manner¡¨. The colonization aspect of this quotation appears with his description of ¡§reach[ing] the mountain peak and implant[ing] the banner¡¨, essentially sexually colonizing the women he charms, and this act of colonization is his greatest pleasure.



¡§Why did Hosna Bint Mahmoud kill the old man Wad Rayyes and then kill herself in this village in which no one ever kills anyone?¡¨




¡§I was the invader who had come from the South, and this was the icy battlefield from which I would not make a safe return. I was the pirate sailor and Jean Morris the shore of destruction. And yet, I did not care.¡¨


Reverse colonization

Coming in to colonize, but it is destructive. He is feeling a pull to wonderlust but he has a constant call to his doom.


¡§Had I exerted just that little bit more pressure I would have put an end to the war. Sometimes the war would take us out.¡¨





Key Moment:

The key moment for the motif of violence, war, and confrontation is definitely from page 153 to 165 because this is the section where Mustafa Sa¡¦eed kills Jean Morris. This section starts from the point where Mustafa meets Jean Morris, to the point where he kills her. This section is the section that shows Mustafaís weakness, which is not seen anywhere else in the novel.