Place and displacement are always featured in post-colonial writings, whether it’s Derek Walcott’s poem ‘A far cry from Africa’ or powerful novels for example ‘Heart of Darkness’. This feature opens up a broader concept where post-colonial crisis of individuality comes into reality. When a novel carries elements of place and displacement, the theme of alienation is always reflected, this originates from a sense of displacement. The sense of displacement may have derived from migration, enslavement or even alterity which may be put forward by similarities or differences between different cultures. This concept was heavily reflected in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. Both writers seem to be telling a tale about colonisation with their own interpretation of different experiences. Salih’s novel revolves around the story of brilliant Mustafa Sa’eed, the novel indicates journey to the ‘heart of light’. Whereas, Conrad’s novel is a complete reversal to Kurtz’s journey to Congo and connotes a journey to ‘heart of darkness’. Both novels focus on geographical locations which have in some way shaped the individuals in the novel and perceived their emotions such of loathing and despair. It seems that both writers are searching for a true identity and avoiding the conflicts of other cultures. Their search is in the end a pointless and time wasting experience; nevertheless their experience of colonialism was all about corruption and greed. The concept of displacement is discovered by us (the readers) when Conrad instigated racism towards the Africans which was quite transparent. In contrast, Salih bravely expressed himself being misogynist, which is rather controversial in today’s society-since men and women come across as being equal.
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The representation of the two continents in these novels is displayed in diverse ways to each other. In Conrad’s novel, the narrator expresses his opinion of River Thames being “mournful gloom, brooding motionless”. His description of England “but darkness was here yesterday” clearly reflects Conrad’s view as to how Romans once colonised England. The description gives an impression of England being wild: “Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness like a needle in a bundle of hay-cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile and death- death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush.” The metaphor is cleverly used here for camps being lost and it’s impossible to find them because of fog and exile. Here we discover Conrad’s first description of displacement from the evidence (as stated above). When Romans first arrived, England was seen as a displacement for people living there.
In contrast Tayeb Salih’s narrator describes Europe (where he studies) thus: “I had lost for a time in a land ‘whose fishes die of the cold’.” This clearly evokes a feeling of displacement he felt when he was in Europe-the feeling and emotions he got when he came back are complete reversal “and it was an extraordinary moment” of feeling for Europe. Later in the novel we come across the narrator’s feeling of alienation which evoked from displacement “the trial into a conflict between two worlds, a struggle of which I was one of the victims.” Here the narrator seems to be tied up between two worlds and trying to suggest that where he studied (Europe) is a different world to where he was born; his village. However, when he returns to his village, he seems to remember Europe, one possible reason could be he becomes attached to that world. This is quite evident in the novel “I am from here- is not this reality enough?…. I used to treasure within me the image of this little village, seeing it wherever I went with the eye of my imagination.” Earlier in the novel his description of the village has drastically changed, because of the experiences that he came across in the village “Over there is like here, neither better nor worse” the narrator seems to come to a conclusion that world is the same there’s no difference Europe is the same as his village.
The concept of European being the dominant and powerful one is established in Edward Said’s Orientalism (Is knowledge based idea in particular knowledgeknowlege and ideasisead of Asian cultures andnad languages.) In his book Said presents an argument argue of East being generated by western/European scholars who represent those cultures from a colonial point of view. Salih gives an impression of Africa is what Europeans make it. Which I think is a valid impression and it’s clearly evident in Conrad’s novel: “They [the slaves] were dying slowly – it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now… inefficient, and were then allowed to crawl away and rest. These moribund shapes “- Marlow’s description of African men and they are not treated humanely, thus Marlow describes them as less human. In one of his chapter he brilliantly says “Orientalism was ultimately a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between the familiar (Europe, West, “us”) and the strange (the Orient, the East, “them”).” This is true to an extent if we base it upon both novels.
When featuring the element of place and displacement in a colonial novel, it is always essential that the values of the place are considered; what effect do those values have on the character. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad mainly presents the values of Africa through the character and what view does the narrator have. In chapter one Conrad presents the narrators’ view of Africa ” They were dying slowly-it was very clear…nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation” (pg20). The whole passage gives an impression of African men as than human, as they the are mistreated and overworked slaves. Similar approachapproch is also seen further in the novel “He was useful…the evil spirit inside the boiler will get angry…So he sweated and fired up and watched the glass fearfully” (pg 45). In this passage Conrad’s narrator, Marlow still doesn’t consider them equally and compares them with animals “a dog in a parody”. The reason being for this is the man had no knowledgeknowlege of machinerymachinary because for them its something new, thus they are dependent on thethr white men to train them. The white man took takes advantage of their lack of capacitycapcity and scares him by referringreferrring to the evil spirit.
Not only the narrator in The Heart of Darkness doesn’t respect the values of Africa nor the natives living there, the character of Kurtz, who is portrayed as a powerful, corrupt man, takes full advantage of these less capable men and treats them as slaves. Kurtz doesn’t respect the Africans and treats them like childrenchidren who needs correction or help with anything “He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at…By simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good…” (pg 61). Kurtz got the idea that before he went to Africa, the natives were living as uncivilised people which was then corruptedcorrpted by Kurtz’s mission. On another surface level Kurtz, this wrotewuote also gives an impression of him believes that white men can revolutionisedrevolutioned Africa and bring goodness to the country as well as making African men more capable. Thus the Africans will see the white men as Gods showing them the path, which they will follow.
Conrad seems to dismissdimiss the values of Africa and thus portrays the role of white men ruling over Africans at the time of when the novel was written. Africans were treated as slaves by the Europeans and white race at the time of slavery and the periodperoid of slavery was started long ago, during the 15th century. Throughout the novel Conrad refers to the natives as “Savages”, which shows his brutality towards them. This approachapproch was very evident in the novel when he refers to the Africans as ” Well if a lot of mysterious niggers armed with all kinds of fearful weapons” (pg 23), another example “unless the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole.” (pg 24) Both these quotes are very harsh and suggest that Conrad is being very racist towards the Africans. At the time, native Africansafricans were used to hearing such insulting names and because they weren’t treated equally as white men, this made them more weaker and less capable to stand for their self. Furthermorethemselves. Furtehrmore, the audience wouldn’t find this racist besides England would expect something far more racism than this, as they ruled over them for hundredshunderds of years.
This issue was consideredcondidered by many African Professors and one of the most effective approachesapproch to Conrad’s racism was seen by Chinua Achebe, Nigerian novelist and professor of African Literature. Achebe called Joseph Conrad a “bloody racist” (Knowles & Moore 299), which he moderated in later printed versions to a “thoroughgoing racist” (“Image” 257). His view is contradictory, as some would agree with him. Simply because Conrad was very direct when he was referring to the Africans with the racist word, from the point of view of Africans he would definitelydefinately be classed as a racist. Achebe also said in his lecture that “Marlow represents Africans as a part of the wilder- ness. He reduces them to fragmented body parts, “limbs or rolling eyes” (254). On the other hand, Marlow finds that an African who does something more than materializematerialise out of the ‘evil jungle’ to scare him resembles “a dog in a parody of breeches” (“Heart” 38; “Image” 254). To an extent his argumentsarugemts are clearly valid ones, the image of Africans portrayedportaryed by Conrad is very brutal and showssowss the narrator’s hostilityhostality towards Africans. On the other hand, from the point of view of Europeans Conrad would bebeen seen as racist. They would argue argure that Conrad only portrayed the events that occurredoccured during the time and at that time people wouldn’t consider this as racism. However, from a point of view of 21st century generation, this would be considered as racism, such deference is more serious and sensitive;, people would be more careful and consider the affect of the word before saying it.
In Salih’s novel, Season of Migration to the North deals withiwth the values and culture of Sudan and how the narratornarrotor and other characterschracters develop their connection with the country they were born in. In the novel, Salih presents the NorthernNothern and Southern Sudan as very different to each other. The Northern Sudan is modernizedmordernised, in that theretheere are many facilities such afacelities sucha s hospitals, schools and other modern infrastructures. Thismordern indrsstructures. Which is contrasted with the narrator’s village in SouthernSouthewrn Sudan, where there’s hardly a school for children. This conflict of Sudan is reflectedrefelcted in the novel by TayebTayed Salih and the novel givens an impression of traditional tradional Sudanese values being replaced by materialistic things and technology.
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Furthermore, in 1956 Sudan gained its independence and tension was on its peak between the north and the south due to differencesdiffernces in religion and ethnicity. In 1983, the war brakes out againagin between the Muslim north and Christian south. Now the Southern SudaneseSudanease have gained their independence and are allowed to choose between unity and secession. The second narrator, Mustafa Sa’eed like the first narrator feels alienatedaliented when he’s in Europe to complete his study “and I, over and above everything else, am a colonizer, I am the intruder whose fate must be decided” (pg 94) like the narrator, Mustafa Sa’eed’s comment evokes a feeling of displacement. This raises an argument that is Europe a hostile place for anyone like the narrator and Mustafa Sa’eed or whether it’s just your personal experience.
ReferringReferrring to the values Sudan, Salih clearly reflectsreflets these values and tradition through the characters. Mustafa Sa’eed’sSaee’d’s wife Hosna portraysportays the character of typical loyal wife, who keeps the tradition of a Muslimmuslim wife ” ‘After Mustafa Sa’eed’, she answered with a decisiveness that astonished me, ‘I shall go to no man’ “. Her character is completelycompletly opposite to Jean Morris, to whom Mustafa Sa’eed married and then killed her. Her character reflectsreflecst the values and culture of England or what he sees in her “I was pleased she laughed so freely. Such a woman- there are many of her types in Europe- knows no fear; they accept life with gaiety and curiosity. And I am a thirsty desert, a wilderness of southernsourthern desires.” This statement stereotypes the women and the way they approach men and Mustafa Sa’eed gives an impression of women being objectsojects in his eyes. Thus he compares himself to a prey, on a look out for any women. Furthermore, he’s suggesting that he comes from a place which wild and full of desires and in this case his desires are sexual ones. These two women are complete reversal to each other, one is loyal portraysportays the value of Sudan and other portrays the careless European woman. The values of Europe are very differentdiffernt to Sudan, however it doesn’t seem to be affecting Mustafa Sa’eed and yet he goes further with his desires.
Frantz Fanon’s ‘Black skin White masks’ is about the search of true identity, race and skin color.colour. “There is a fact: White men consider themselves superior to black men. There is another fact: Black men want to prove to white men, at all costs, the richness of their thought, the equal value of their intellect”. In his book he presents his personal experience and comments on other theories of psychologists.psychiologists. Fanon presented the idea that a person is criticizedcritised because of their native culture, they then become victims of inferiority complex, when they are put in the middle of a superior culture. Thus he believesbelievs that black men have to adopt white masks in order to become part of the superior culture. According to him, the best way to achieve this is to speak the language of that culture and by speaking the language, you need to understand the values and adopt the culture.cultre. So did Mustafa Sa’eed put on a white mask? To an extent, it’s its clearly evident from his desires which are not the values of Sudan. It seems that Mustafa Sa’eed valued the white culture so much above his original culture. However, this is arguable, as he might be trying to become part of what he believesbeleives a superior culture; thus he adopts its it’s language as well as culture.
Marlow similarly adopts the culture of Africa or Kurtz’s. Like Kurtz at the end he becomes corrupted and lies.
Structure, language, form used in HOD and SOM to create effect
Critical conclusion on both novels/or any parallelsparalells
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