What Role Do the External Factors, I.E., the British, Wwii, and Hitler, Play?

Topics: Egypt, World War II, Naguib Mahfouz Pages: 3 (1168 words) Published: March 3, 2013
‘Midaq Alley’ is a novel written by the well-known Egyptian author, Naguib Mahfouz. It is a microcosmic display of Egypt during the British mandate at that time. The novel mainly focuses on an alley located in one of the crowded streets of Cairo. Omnisciently narrated, it gives us a detailed analysis of the Egyptian people during that time of oppression. Mahfouz conveys his message by the creation of external factors such as the British and WWII and making them play an eminent role throughout the novel, and thus having a profound impact on the actions taken by the protagonists and antagonists in the novel. Naguib likewise used characterization, setting and the theme of nationalism to further deliver his message. At first glance, the influence of the West seems welcome because it provides a way for individuals living in the alley to escape from the area by working for the British Army. After Hussain Kirsha leaves the alley to work for the British, “his new wealth affords him undreamed-of luxuries,” instilling in his mind a belief that “the war is a blessing” (Mahfouz, 33+36). For many people like Hussain, joining forces with the West is a promise of the wealth and success that they cannot acquire while living in the alley. Not only are those who join the war promised a life of riches and luxury, but with the newly improved quality of life they are able to provide more effectively for a family, likely making them more appealing than poor men to many women, especially those who have lived in poverty for their entire lives. Although on the surface the influence of the West seems positive, leaving Midaq Alley behind makes some people like Hussain feel as though they are superior to those still living in the alley. Hussain says to Abbas, “Shake off this miserable life, close up your shop, leave this filthy alley behind” (Mahfouz, 36) in an attempt to convince Abbas that a life away from the alley is superior to the lifestyle that the alley can provide (Mahfouz, 36). He...
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