Kurban Said portrays the city of Baku as both Eastern and Western like the identity of his two main characters. Baku is a city that is influenced more and more by European culture where both Ali and Nino grow up and meet, she is Georgian and he is a Mohammedan. Nino is brought up with more Western culture (European) while Ali is more of an Eastern (Asiatic) culture. Baku is one city, but it has two identities best described by Ali as desert (East) and woods (West). Said also portrays Baku as Eastern and Western by the religions of Ali and Nino, Ali is a Mohammedan, Shiite, in the interpretation of Imam Dshafar and Nino is a Christian of Greek Orthodox. Through out the novel they are struggling to see which side they will choose and eventually choose the Western because Ali partially succumbs.
The story begins with Ali describing how the school teaches the students how many students there are. They are in class and the professor makes a remark saying that it is their responsibility as to whether Baku should be progressive Europe or reactionary Asia. The professor obviously want the class to lean towards Europe then there is a kid by the name of Mehmed Haidar says he would want to stay in Asia. The professor is furious and asks to give a reason why, but he can’t so the whole class makes him feel more stupid. Then Ali says he would also want it to be Asiatic and the professor makes him at least give a reason, but before he can give a reason the professor tries to make his case by saying if he has gone to certain places that are considered backward countries compared to European standards, but Ali says that he has and just gets the professor furious. Here Ali tells the audience the reason why the professor was upset. The Professor is suppose to make his students into good Europeans and the fact there were some students who preferred the East made him furious. Ali is a Muslim who is very proud of his religion and follows it to an extent. His family eats with...
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