Season of Migration to the North

Destructive Desires in Tayeb Salih and Joseph Conrad College

In Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, the story of the mysterious, prodigious, and devilish Mustafa Sa’eed is told through the eyes of an unnamed narrator. Although Mustafa is not directly present for most of the book, his actions, and the narrator’s reflection on his life, work to drive the plot while the narrator acts as more of a conduit for the audience to explore the life of the focus character. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which partially inspired Salih, employs the same technique, using the experiences of the narrator, Marlow, to create a contrast between himself and Kurtz, who is meant to be Mustafa’s equivalent. The juxtaposition of the unassuming narrator and the larger-than-life character on whom he focuses his attention, serves to distinguish between two types of explorers: the observer and the conqueror. Through this device, we are able to see the effect of both approaches, and that the latter, which seeks destruction, is ultimately destined to destroy himself.

What sets both narrators apart from their more enigmatic counterparts is, firstly, their reasons for exploring their own centers of darkness. The equivalent of the “heart of darkness” in Seasons of Migration to the North is London, where...

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