Characterization And British Culture In Midaq Alley By Naguib Mahfouz

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Midaq Alley is a novel written by Naguib Mahfouz which revolves around the lives of the people living in a small alley in the city of Cairo. It allows the readers to have an inside look at the dynamics of the community. This novel is set in a time during which Egypt was occupied by the British forces, which had a strong impact on the people of Egypt. Many Egyptians also began to work for the British army, experiencing luxuries that they never knew, leading to feelings of animosity towards their homes and families. Each character in the novel struggles when they encounter the different culture of the British. Many of them assimilate into the British culture and disregard their own traditions. The youth in this novel were affected the most by …show more content…
They rebel against the societal norms and face modernization due to the British. The people of Midaq Alley are drawn away from their tradition and culture by the lure of modernization, resulting in the resentment of their upbringings. In World War One, the British were using the Suez Canal as an important supply route for transporting troops, equipment, food, minerals and other provisions for Britain and it’s allies. During World War Two, Britain used Egypt as a base for allied operations. The British occupied Egypt for a long period of time during which the people of Egypt were introduced to the British culture, the effect of which can be seen throughout the novel as well. This change causes a strong impact on the small community of Midaq Alley as all of its inhabitants are so closely connected. An example of this influence is exhibited in the café. When the poet who provides entertainment for the customers begins to recite his poem, Kirsha stops him and explains, “People today don’t want a poet. They keep asking me for a radio and there’s one over there being installed now.” (6) This poet is in fact a Hakawati, traditional storytellers who were used for entertainment in the past, before radios became …show more content…
He left to work for the British army and enjoys the luxuries that come with it. He returns to Midaq Alley and speaks condescendingly to Abbas, “Shake off this miserable life, close up your shop, leave this filthy alley behind.” (36) The contact that Hussain Kirsha has with the British causes him to feel resentment towards his home and family. During his time with the army he experiences greater wealth and power than anyone in the alley. He feels a sense of superiority towards the people of the alley and begins to cut off his connections with them. He explains to his family, “All my friends live the modern way. They have all become gentleman, as they say in English.” (116) It is as though he has become ashamed of his home and who he truly was, and desires to become like a British man. He lets his pride control him and in the end it leads to his downfall. He is sent away from the army and is forced to seek help from his family to support his wife and brother in law, as he is unable to do so any longer. His mother is ashamed of him and his attitude towards the alley and ridicules him, “You lived like a king with electricity, water, and entertainment, and now you’re back like a beggar, just as you were when you left.” (212) Hussain Kirsha faces a great deal of embarrassment by the people who he disrespected, as it is ironic that he ended up in the same position that he was trying to escape. This situation stresses the

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