Essay about In the country of men

1053 Words Oct 9th, 2013 5 Pages
In the Country of Men as a National Allegory
Hisham Matar presents In the Country of Men as a national allegory. This is done through metaphors, personification, and characters’ relationships. His purposes for writing this novel were political. A national allegory is any attribution of human characteristics to other animals, non-living things, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations or governments1 of a nation or its people.2
Fredric Jameson, with ideas more suitable for the novel than Aijaz Ahmad, was first to think of national allegory.3 Jameson states that third-world literature must be a national allegory because of the state of its embattled culture and society. A political dimension is always present
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Those who were caught were imprisoned. Books were gathered from bookshops and burned like Baba’s were, therefore representing a national allegory.
The fact that Matar grew up in Cairo influences the ending of the novel and other aspects of the storyline. His father was kidnapped from his home in Cairo and taken back to Libya where he was tortured and imprisoned, corresponding with Baba’s capture. His uncle and two cousins were imprisoned as well. When they were finally released, his uncle would ask him if he remembered things they used to do together.7 The child memories recounted inspired the innocence of having a child narrator to be an allegory of the younger generation of the nation, therefore representing a national allegory for a political purpose.
The mother and son represent two generations of the country. Their intimate relationship and care for one another is a metaphor for how the country should care for their people and their people towards it. Both are inferior in society, Mama a woman and Suleiman a child. It seems that the title of the novel demonstrates that they are controlled by the men of society. They rely on one another to survive when Baba, the superior figure, is gone. Mama and Suleiman are the only functioning relationship from start to end. The mother cares for her son and compensates him if she does something wrong. Suleiman cares for her and watches after her while Baba is away. They can

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