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Comparing portrayal of death In The Story of Zhara and Seasons of Migration

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Compare the portrayal of death in 'The Story of Zahra' and 'Season of Migration to the North' In both 'The Story of Zahra' and 'Season of Migration to the North', many characters die as a result of their own actions. Some deaths are ambiguous, like those of the narrator and Mustafa Sa'eed in 'Season of Migration to the North', whilst others are more overt - such as the death of Zahra in 'The Story of Zahra' and that of Jean Morris. In all these events, characters have chosen death, and it is this self-destructive death that I will be examining. Zahra becomes obsessed with the sniper as a result of the events of her life in the 'Story of Zahra'. When Zahra first learns of the presence of the sniper, she makes a conscious decision to die by purposefully walking down the street which he is targeting. She anticipates 'only one thing: hearing a bullet and then falling dead'. She does this because, traumatised by her mother taking her on her mother's illicit assignations with her lover, she had lived her life with great apathy. She later a man to seduce and continues to allow him to use her even once it is clear that he isn't prepared to marry her. ...read more.


It is ironic that only when she actively seeks her death does she hold her head high and have a spring in her step. In 'Seasons of Migration to the North', Sa'eed pursues Jean Morris, who was the one woman who rejected him. He becomes obsessed with her and is filled with a selfish desire. Although he sees himself as the predator, using words such as 'hunting' and using metaphors involving bows and arrows such as 'my arrow missed' when he fails to win her over, she is clearly the one in power and is enticing him on. Such is her power over him that she gets him to destroy his most precious possessions, which are parts of himself and his heritage. When he kills her, she seems to want death: her eyes 'follow the blade', wanting him to kill her, until he finally plunges it into her chest. When he kills her, she seems to welcome the act, calling him 'darling' - a term of endearment perhaps strange to use towards the man who is killing you. Mustafa Sa'eed does not then kill himself as she asked; he shies away from killing himself. Sa'eed's killing of Morris is very graphic and shocking, and sex is mingled with murder. ...read more.


The manner of the narrator's possible death is similar to Zahra's: both choose to live and only then die. Traumatised by her mother's actions, Zahra lived her life with great ambivalence until she realised that she was just watching, like a tourist, the world go by. Seeing all the death and suffering in the war-zone around her she is much attracted to death and seeks death with the sniper. However, he does not kill her and instead takes her as a lover. She finally feels that she is doing something, trying to save innocent lives, and her obsession with death fades. Once she loses her obsession with death and instead looks forward to life, the sniper shoots her. It is ironic that she is thwarted: her desire is never fulfilled until it is no longer her desire and the fulfilment of her previous desire obliterates her new one. In both 'The Story of Zahra' and 'Seasons of Migration to the North' characters pursue self-destructive courses, many deliberately - even if they have changed their minds by the time death comes to them. These deaths are often very symbolic - used to portray the domination of women over men, the ambiguity of death, or the uselessness of war. Both Zahra and the narrator of 'Season of Migration to the North' seem to be thwarted when they choose to live, rather than die. ...read more.

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