Character Analysis: Anis Zaki in Adrift on the Nile

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In Adrift on the Nile the characters deal with these realities in a number of unproductive ways, which prevent them from confronting the problems they are facing in life. The ways in which they tackle their problems come in the form of a short-term release. People turn to drugs and sex as a way to achieve some momentary sensations. People keep their problems to themselves and do not want to share them with others. To find discovery and meaning, they embark on a journey that only fuels the isolation and emptiness of their lives. Most notably people procrastinate and are unwilling to bring about change. The truth behind all these ways of dealing with the realities is that they do not work.

Drugs play an integral part of the Egyptian society in Mahfouz’s book Adrift on the Nile, drugs are used to deal with the realities. Right from the beginning of Adrift on the Nile Anis Zaki the main character is involved in drugs. For Anis Zaki drugs are a part of his life in all aspects. His boss, the Director General, tells him, “When will you learn the difference between a government department and smoking den?” (Adrift on the Nile, 6) Anis Zaki and his friend use a pipe as an inhalant for heroine every day on the boat, as a way of escaping the realities of life. Anis Zaki says, “It’s the focal point of our gatherings. None of us is really happy except when we are here” (Adrift on the Nile, page 47). Ali al-Sayyid recites a simple poem to encapsulate the feeling of drugs: “Eyes sleepless, eyes sleeping/ For some reason or none/ Cast off care if you can/ For care to madness leads…” (Adrift on the Nile, page 82-83). Drugs make the characters feel alive in a different sense. Without drugs they’d “All be at their wits’ end” (Adrift on the Nile, page 47). But what the drugs cannot do is make them face reality. This is something they all must do themselves, without the use drugs. The turning point in how they deal with things is when they kill an innocent man in a car accident....
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