“Half a Day” by Naguib Mahfouz is an allegorical short story that reflects the journey of life and the speed in which it begins and ends. It also gives representation to stages and changes that occur within a person during their time on Earth. “Half a Day”, can only be fully understood through its symbolism and is not intended to be interpreted literally. In order to fully understand the reader must be able to comprehend that each part has a greater meaning then the words that appear on the paper and that each meaning is greater than the one before. In addition, Mahfouz uses elaborate figurative and descriptive language, painting a vivid picture and allowing the reader to be present in the moment. Though there are not many characters in this story, their importance is of the utmost. They are emblematic as well, each having additional meanings as well as their literal interpretation. His father holding his hand could also represent the hand of God leading him along a righteous path or ushering him in and out of life. The mother admires her son quietly and from afar, leaving the task of guiding a boy to manhood to her husband. The teacher is the rule-maker, identified as a person. She keeps order and punishes those who cannot or will not abide. His classmates are all the people that he becomes acquainted with over time, females that he has had relationship with and loved. However, not all are good people nor do they all have the same opportunities, prompting the decision making that all children must make on their road to adulthood. The most central character is the boy himself beginning his day as a young lad and progressing into teenager, young man, middle age and finally an old man looking for his final home.
This short story is deceitfully ironic because it is about a man that lives his entire life in the span of a day starting as a young boy and ending as an old man. Mahfouz is comparing life to his first day of school and believes that its...
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