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Tayeb Salih’s Season Of Migration To The North

2586 words - 11 pages

In Tayeb Salih’s, Season of Migration to the North, the reader encounters the story of one of the main characters, Mustafa Sa’eed. In Stuart Halls’, Cultural Identity and Diaspora, we get an insight on what forms an identity and what molds it to be the way it is. Throughout Season of Migration to the North, the narrator attempts to discover the true identity of Sa’eed, but instead, finds himself as well. Cultural differences help mold one’s identity into one’s being, versus what they become. Halls’ article about cultural identity can be correlated to the experience the narrator goes through in order to find out more about the mysterious Mustafa Sa’eed.
Stuart Hall’s addresses how the ...view middle of the document...

That is why, the unnerving silence of Sa’eed, without any curiosity for the narrator’s broad cultural identity, leaves the narrator curious as to who he is.
In the novel the narrator proceeds to visit Sa’eed in hopes of learning more about his cultural identity. It seems that the narrator feels that anyone that is not as knowledgeable, or educated, as him is a waste of time in terms of conversation or consideration in general. In the article, Hall goes on to talk about how “we all write and speak from a particular place and time, from a history and a culture which is specific. What we say is always 'in context', positioned” (222). When the narrator discovers that Sa’eed is a simple farmer that got married and now lives in Khartoum, his self-centered ego believes Sa’eed to be stupid. It is not until Sa’eed gets very drunk with the narrator and begins to recite poetry that the narrator’s perception of him changes. He is not a simple farmer dubbed as ‘stupid’ anymore, but instead the nystery continues as the narrator discovers that Sa’eed has a cultural identity similar to his, so much more than the little town of Wad Hamid.
In his article, Hall goes on to define identity as “perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent, we should think, instead, of identity a s a 'production', which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation” (222). In other words, we may be a ‘being’ right now, but we can’t deny that in the process we are also ‘becoming’ something we are completely unaware of. As years pass by we become a different person, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.
In the article Hall’s emphasizes how there are at least two different ways of thinking about what 'cultural identity' really is. He talk about the first position defining “'cultural identity' in terms of one, shared culture, a sort of collective 'one true self', hiding inside the many other, more superficial or artificially imposed 'selves', which people with a shared history and ancestry hold in common” (223). To further explain he goes more in depth by adding that this sort of unity constitutes the experience as 'one people', consisting of historical experiences and shared beliefs. When comparing this sort of cultural identity to the main characters of the novel one can see the similarities of what Hall refers to.
After the narrator learns of Sa’eed’s vast knowledge and worldly experience, his perception of him changes. For the narrator, Sa’eed is not a ‘being’ representative of Hall’s first definition of ‘cultural identity’ anymore, but instead someone who he has become. Similarly to what I was saying previously, the narrator was bored and thought of the people around him as unintelligent because they didn’t share the same cultural identity that he has. They are confined to the knowledge and attributes of Wad Hamid and nothing more. They...

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