The Thief and the Dogs

Death: the final answer? A Cemetery Symbolism Analysis in The Thief and the Dogs 12th Grade

Death has been a prevalent theme in literature of all cultures throughout the centuries. In The Thief and the Dogs, the author Naguib Mahfouz explores the realm of death and its interconnections with life. Witnessing the turmoil of the Egyptian revolutions since childhood, it is small wonder that Mahfouz creates a fictional world which mirrors the chaos of his nation with a protagonist whose role is to face the confusion of the contemporary world and revisit the cores of traditional values, one of which is the relationship between life and death. The author’s use of the cemetery symbol not only elucidates the protagonist’s confusion of a betraying world, but also clarifies Mahfouz’s own views on death. The symbolism of the cemetery somberly embodies Said Mahran’s inherent decaying psyche and his perception of the world, which convene to make a philosophical statement about death as being the final ‘truth’ Said had so insanely pursued.

The vast expanse of the cemetery, serving as the backdrop in which the novel unravels, is symbolic of Said Mahran’s psychological decadence. While Said’s death at the end of the novel may seem precipitous, that is an illusion. Mahfouz’s use of the cemetery symbol suggests that at some level of...

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