Season of Migration to the North: A comparison between the two deaths of Hosna Bint Mahmoud and Jean Morris
Season of Migration to the North is a classically complex Arabic novel written by the late Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih about the problems faced due to colonization and the attitudes towards the ‘new’ world. Throughout the novel issues such as racism, sexism, corruption and the drawbacks of modernisation are explored and these issues are all presented by Tayeb Salih in the two scenes where Hosna Bint Mahmoud commits suicide after killing the old man, Wad Rayyes and also when Jean Morris is killed by Mustafa Sa’eed in ‘love’. In this essay I will explore the two scenes in which these women both die, and compare and contrast the deaths.
The murder scene of Wad Rayyes and the suicide of Hosna, are extremely unusual because of the fact that it in Sudan this time it was exceptionally rare for women to murder their husbands as the narrator claims ‘it is not every day that a woman kills a man, let alone her husband’, yet in the chapter prior to the murder the narrator comes across soldiers looking for a woman who has killed her husband and this shows the change in behaviour in the Sudan, as they are moving away from their usual traditions and showing the social discord in the country as they believe they are developing like the West but they are in fact hindering their own development. Hosna’s suicide and her murder of Wad Rayyes is narrated by the comical character of Bint Majzoub, who in the novel is portrayed as an open woman who speaks her mind throughout as Tayeb Salih describes her as “uninhibited in her conversation” so it is of no surprise to the reader that she is the one who informs the narrator of the incident in the village when not a soul dares to talk about it. This is similar to the murder of Jean Morris by Mustafa Sa’eed as this is held back from the reader like the deaths of Hosna & Wad Rayyes are kept away from the narrator.
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