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Zaabalawi by Nagiub Mahfouz is a classic story that has a very heavy lean toward religion and social studies. A common man is inflicted with a disease that he is unable to seek out a cure for, so he sets out in search of the mysterious Zaabalawi who has been known to cure illnesses. His search invites outside acquaintances who he hopes may be able to tell him where he can find Zaabalawi. By the end of the story it is clear that Zaabalawi is much less a holy man, but more so a figure one’s own desire for spiritual fulfillment. The common man, played by the narrator, seems to have made a half-hearted attempted to find the cure by traditional means, but not finding success he has decided to seek out Zaabalawi; a man described almost entirely as elusive as the cure to his own illness. Nevertheless, he is determined to seek out Zaabalawi, a man who he believes will be able to cure his ailment, and ultimately cure his affliction by whatever means necessary. Here the narrator gives up on the traditionally accepted means of finding a solution to his problem, and seeks out a more less common, misunderstood means to find it. At this point in the story it is not really clear if Zaabalawi is a real man, or is simply an idea, or a symbol for something greater. Being that Zaabalawi represents a solution to his greater problem at this point, it is clear he has decided that Zaabalawi is the absolute answer. As the story develops further, we see several people enter the story who claim to have once known Zaabalawi. Sheik Quamar, a lawyer in Cairo, suggests that he once knew Zaabalawi but has since fallen out of contact and remembers almost nothing about him. Sheiks situation seems indicative of a man who has fallen out of touch with his spiritual side and has forgotten a lot of things he used to believe in before he found success. This same idea is repeated when the District Officer enters the story. We see a man who appears incapable of offering any real assistance, and goes on...
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