Victims of Colonialism in Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.
Thus a very large mass of writers, among whom are poets, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and imperial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social, descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, "mind," destiny, and so on. (Said 2-3).
Orientalist discourse depicted non-western people as savage and primitive. It was at the service of the western powers to justify their presence in the East. European colonizers referred to their occupation of the East as a civilizing mission. They claimed to be the saviors who were going to put an end to the primitivism of colonized subjects via western civilization. As a part of the western strategy with regard to the civilizing mission, colonial schools propagated the language and culture of colonizers. The degradation and subsequent eradication of native cultures were prerequisites for the accomplishment of imperial policies:
European systems of education were set up in most colonies for a multiplicity of purposes. Often the officially stated goals of Eurocentric humanitarianism were to build western-style schools in order to spread the light of civilization to the dark places on the map. These schools also served a more pragmatic function in order to dissolve native culture and knowledge at an increased rate, supplanting them with European knowledge of the world. (Jones 23-24).
The strategy of the West concerning the transmission of its propaganda of the white man's burden was not limited to the enforcement of cultural programs in missionary schools founded in colonies. Not only colonized natives, but also western individuals were to be persuaded about the good-will of the West. As a prominent western critic of imperialism and colonialism, Rachel Bailey Jones describes what he has been taught about the purpose of the West during its presence in the East during colonization:
I learned that my country was founded on ideals of freedom and equality that we were trying to spread throughout the world [...]. My curriculum told me that the violence and wars that were supported by my country were necessary for the defense of freedom and democracy. I learned that technology and science were invented in Europe and the United States, and that we were helping the less developed people of the world to bring them up to our level (Jones 7-8).
The cultural hegemony of the West, that justified the presence of colonizers in their colonies, served the capitalistic interests of colonizers to plunder natural resources and appropriate fertile lands. Colonized subjects were supposed to adopt the language and manners of colonizers in order to get rid of their barbarity. Nevertheless, in many cases indigenous people resisted this monolithic and hegemonic discourse through hybridity as a 'threatening' and 'ambivalent' state. Hybridity is a subversive strategy that destabilizes the narrative of dominant culture through the rejection of the singular framework intended by colonizers. Hence, hybridity can be an emancipatory strategy against the essentialism and fixity propagated by colonizers. Apart from hybridity, mimicry is utilized by indigenous people to counteract the colonizers' attempt to eradicate their native identity. According to Homi K. Bhabha, mimicry reinforces the subversion of colonial discourse:
To the extent to which discourse is a form of defensive warfare, mimicry marks those moments of disobedience within the discipline of civility: signs of spectacular resistance. Then the words of the master become the site of hybridity- the warlike subaltern sign of the native- then we may not only read between lines but even seek to change the often coercive reality that they so lucidly contain. (Bhabha 121)
Mimicry as defined by Bhabha does not entail slavish imitation, but rather it is "an exaggerated copying of language, culture, manners and ideas" (Huddart 39). Mimicry and hybridity undermine the fixed identity expected by colonizers and challenge the colonizers' intention of transforming and 'translating' the identity of the colonized. Bhabha rejects the purity and essentiality of identity. Accordingly, Mimicry and hybridity are positive and liberating concepts:
Building on the assumption that colonial discourse is ambivalent and heterogeneous, Bhabha further considers hybridity as a privileged means of resistance and subversion with a strong liberatory potential for the colonized subaltern subjects. According to Bhabha, then, hybridity is the fundamental tool by which the colonized resisted and subverted the colonizer's cultural, political, and ideological domination. (Acherai'ou 95)
Victims of colonialism in Season are divided into two groups. The first group includes the Sudanese students who are directly exposed to the western cultural hegemony during their education, whereas the second group consists of four British women whose lives are tragically influenced by the consequences of imperial and colonial policies. As the representative of those Sudanese students who attend the missionary schools founded by the colonizers in Sudan, Mustafa Sa'eed turns out to be a victim whose life is devastated by the consequences of colonialism. He is born in Khartoum 16 August 1898, the same year that British troops headed by Horatio Herbert Kitchener invaded Sudan, defeated the Sudanese forces in the Battle of Omdurman and overthrew the native rulers. Mustafa goes to school quite accidentally. A man dressed in uniform riding a horse approaches Mustafa while he is playing with some native children. All the children escape except Mustafa. The man asks him if he would like to go to school. He describes school as a nice stone building in the middle of a large garden on the bank of the Nile.
Mustafa Sa'eed enrols in a westernized school and exhibits his wonderful aptitudes during elementary education. He learns to write in two weeks. Mustafa proves to be a brilliant student who is indifferent to everything but education. He covers the first stage of school in two years and enrols in intermediate level to educate for three years. Upon Mustafa's graduation, the headmaster informs him that he may go to Egypt, Lebanon or England to pursue his education. He tells him "this country hasn't got the scope for that brain of yours [...]. We have nothing further to give you" (Salih 16). The government grants Mustafa a scholarship to educate in Egypt and he sets off for Cairo where Mr Robinson and his wife await him to be his host. He stays with the Robinsons until the end of his education in Cairo.
Mustafa's ambition reinforces in him the motivation to migrate to the North, which represents England, in order to reside there and enter the PhD program. He has already been taught in Sudan during his colonial education that assuming a western style of thought and life would save him from barbarity. He seizes the opportunity to get rid of his dark side through assimilation into European culture. Mustafa manages to become a well-known professor in a British university and authors many books on different subjects. He is intended to raise himself in the society via resorting to English culture. A Sudanese man says that "he was the spoilt child of the English and we all envied him and expected he would achieve great things" and later adds that "with a combination of admiration and spite we nicknamed him the black English man" (Salih 33). Mustafa never feels nostalgic either for his homeland or for his mother that he left alone in Sudan. He is willing to reject his cultural heritage to adopt a new lifestyle that dignifies him:
Mustafa's story juxtaposes the common assumption about travel as Mustafa's journey to England can be viewed as how routes precede roots. His journey to England is a route that leads to his unvisited roots. His departure from his hometown was emotionless and significantly detached [...]. Later, a feeling of familiarity and identification surfaces as he approaches England. (Abdul Jabbar 135)
Based on what has been embodied in his psyche during colonial education, Mustafa should reject all signs of barbarity including his native identity. Mustafa is delighted to leave his homeland because his migration to the North takes him into the heart of civilization, where he can live among the people whose culture can save him from darkness. He embraces London and resides there for thirty years. Mustafa's advancement, especially his academic achievement, makes him a well-known figure. Nevertheless, for his British masters, Mustafa is just a student of inferior race who is intended to elevate his position in the society by resorting to western civilization. Professor Maxwell Foster-Keen admires Mustafa as a successful case of a westernized African. He reminds Mustafa that resorting to the colonizers and their glorious civilizing mission has put an end to his barbarity: "After all the efforts we've made to educate you, it's as if you'd come out of the jungle for the first time" (Salih 59). Prior to his disillusionment with colonial discourse, Mustafa's behaviour resembles that of an enthusiastic follower of the colonizers. He rejects his native culture and values in order to be accepted as a member of the white society but his efforts lead to frustration when he observes the disdainful behaviour of British people towards himself despite his achievements in the academic sphere and his enthusiasm for western culture. They treat Mustafa as either a man of the inferior race or an exotic eastern individual interesting to be dissected as described in orientalist discourse. Mustafa remains a stranger to the British society, where people find him too eastern to be one of them:
To the Sudanese, Sa'eed is a convert to Englishness since he is called the 'black Englishman', and to the British, on other hands, he is the inferior and sensual Other. Despite of all Sa'eed's academic achievements--as a 'lecturer in economics at London University at the age of twenty-four' and a brilliant author of many books and articles -he remains a product of western knowledge and patronage. (Alhawamdeh 8)
The Orientalist 'gaze' considers Mustafa as an Other. Although he excels other students and achieves academic positions, Mustafa is still a non-northern Other who does not deserve to be equal to the whites. He realizes that westernization does not necessarily dignify him. Mustafa expects his western education to elevate and raise him from 'the heart of darkness' to the white utopia, but the consequence of such a hegemony that entices him into adopting a western style of thought is a kind of identity crisis. Duality of Mustafa's character can be traced in his rooms in London and Sudan. In London he has an Oriental room, whereas his room in Sudan is filled with numerous western elements and symbols. Salhi and Netton point out that Mustafa's rooms represent his hybridity:
The deconstruction of the novel, leads us to understand that the fate of cultural hybrids is often tragic as their souls are restless, whether in their exile or in their country of origin. In London Mustapha Sa'eed created an Oriental setting to which he attracted his victims, and in Sudan he added to his Sudanese house an English drawing room. Both settings go to prove that Mustapha Sa'eed is out of place in both locations, which explains his fatal mysterious end. (Salhi and Netton 6)
Mustafa's room in Sudan contains an English fireplace, two Victorian chairs, some portraits of British women, and dozens of English books some of which authored by himself. These books are of high significance. Despite the fact that Mustafa is an Arab, there is not even a single book in Arabic language in his room. Even, the Koran, from which he is supposed to learn the ways of life based on Islamic teachings, is in English. There are some other important books in his westemizec room including Hobson's Imperialism, and the books authored by Mustafa Sa'eed titled The Economics of Colonialism, The Rape of Africa, and Colonialism and Monopoly. The very fact that all of these books are in English can be an approval of the conversion of Mustafa's established mentality. He is a Sudanese whose thought is under the control of the British colonizers. As a misplaced African who has adopted a new style of life, Mustafa resorts to the civilized whites to get him acculturated based on the British criteria. Acculturation of Mustafa during his education follows the cultural strategies of the colonizers. Mustafa lives in England for thirty years to fulfil his dreams, though the achievement of his ambition is at the cost of losing his native identity. Upon returning to Sudan following his thirty-year adventurous life in England, Mustafa writes a pamphlet concerning hybridity in Sudan. The narrator finds this pamphlet in Mustafa's room in Sudan:
Opening a notebook, I read on the first page: 'My Life Story--by Mustafa Sa'eed.' On the next page was the dedication: 'To those who see with one eye, speak with one tongue and see things as either black or white, either Eastern or Western.' (Salih 93).
Mustafa lives in a state of confusion between Africa and Europe and belongs to none of them. Nevertheless, he is finally disillusioned with the true nature of the western cultural hegemony after thirty years. Talking symbolically to the narrator about hybridity, Mustafa points to a tree and remarks that "some of the branches of this tree produce lemons, others oranges" (Salih 11). Mustafa deserves to be considered as a victim of colonialism. He has been exposed to both racism and the cultural hegemony resulting in his identity crisis. However, as an intelligent and gifted student, Mustafa is disillusioned with the colonial discourse and the real motives behind it.
The biased behaviour of British people towards Mustafa in London reinforces his deconstruction of the values he was taught during his colonial education. For the British women, Mustafa represents the stereotypical image of a primitive African; and for his professors he is a barbarous Sudanese who is supposed to escape his savagery under the auspices of the benevolent colonizers who teach him how to become a civilized man. The expansion of Mustafa's horizon of understanding leads him to examine the colonial discourse. He secures his position as an academic figure in the university and raises himself to the position of the president of The Society for the Struggle for African Freedom. The Economics of Colonialism, The Rape of Africa, and Colonialism and Monopoly, all of them written by Mustafa Sa'eed represent his metamorphosis from a naive student who is like a blank page ready for the imprinting of colonial lessons to a sophisticated professor who counters and defies the western cultural hegemony. The following statements by Mustafa about the British colonizers depict his perception of the West after the so-called mental metamorphosis:
[...] the schools were started so as to teach us how to say "Yes" in their language. They imported to us the germ of the greatest European violence, as seen on the Somme and at Verdun, the like of which the world has never previously known, the germ of a deadly disease that struck them more than a thousand years ago. Yes, my dear sirs, I came as an invader into your very homes: a drop of the poison which you have injected into the veins of history. (Salih 60)
Mustafa is intended to retaliate against the colonizers who occupied his country, appropriated the lands, plundered its natural resources, reduced the natives to savage and barbarous creatures in the jungle, and eradicated the traditional values and culture as the symbols of primitivism. Apart from his academic activities, Mustafa who is a victim of colonialism is determined to victimize a selected group of British women who follow and advocate the principles of imperialism and Orientalism. He leads three women to suicide, kills another and finally completes the story by drowning himself in the Nile. He castigates the British colonizers for their imperialistic policies towards his nation and later on appears to be an intruder to those who intruded into his country. Explaining the occupation of his country by the colonizers who appropriated it, Mustafa refers to General Kitchener's condemnation of a Sudanese leader arrested by the British soldiers:
When Mahmoud Wad Ahmed was brought in shackles to Kitchener after his defeat at the Battle of Atbara, Kitchener said to him, "Why have you come to my country to lay waste and plunder?" It was the intruder who said this to the person whose land it was, and the owner of the land bowed his head and said nothing. (Salih 59-60)
The grudge that he holds against the colonizers makes him an intended avenger. Although the women whom Mustafa hunt do not have a direct role in colonization, they share the biased attitude of Orientalists about the primitivism of the East. Mustafa hates these women and tries to colonize them as his slaves. For Mustafa, conquering the hearts of British women is the same as conquering the West. He compares one of his British mistresses to a city to be conquered and says that "the city was transformed into an extraordinary woman, with her symbols and her mysterious calls, towards whom I drove my camels till their entrails ached and I myself almost died of yearning for her" (Salih 30). Mustafa entices one woman after another, enslaves them like a colonizer and finally shatters all of them to accomplish his mission. His mistresses fall in love with him and praise him like a valuable idol, but they are actually the followers of Orientalism who regard Mustafa as an exotic eastern phenomenon to be enjoyed. Mustafa invokes in them the image of a primitive African with great sexual potency.
Mustafa's first prey in London is Ann Hammond. Ann is an enthusiastic student of Oriental language at Oxford University. For her, Mustafa symbolizes a mysterious African with extraordinary male potency. Apart from her interest for Mustafa's genitals, Ann adores Mustafa and identifies him with the exoticism of the East. Mustafa refers to Ann's ardour and asserts that "she yearned for tropical climes, cruel suns, purple horizons. In her eyes I was a symbol of all her hankerings". (Salih 20). She smells the orient in Mustafa's body and finds utter ecstasy in his arm:
She used to bury her face under my armpit and breathe me into herself as though inhaling some narcotic smoke. Her face would be puckered with pleasure. "I love your sweat," she would say as though intoning rites in a temple. "I want to have the smell of you in full--the smell of rotting leaves in the jungles of Africa, the smell of the mango and the pawpaw and tropical spices, the smell of rains in the deserts of Arabia." (Salih 87-88)
Although she calls Mustafa her master, Ann pursues the principles of Orientalism to degrade Mustafa to a barbarian. She cannot detach herself from her Orientalised thought; hence identifies Mustafa with beasts in the jungle rather than a man. Mustafa says that "in my eyes she saw the shimmer of mirages in hot deserts, that in my voice she heard the screams of ferocious beasts in the jungles" (Salih 90). Through her intimacy with Mustafa, Ann realizes her dream of experiencing the Oriental fantasy. "Mustafa exists only as a function of the needs of the colonizer in his affairs with the British women" (Tran 9). Mustafa exaggerates the eastern sceneries and entices Ann into his bedroom which he compares to a graveyard that looks on to a garden. He deceives Ann into thinking that their relationship will result in marriage. Mustafa builds up 'lie upon lie' about the sandalwood and incense, the ivory figurines, forests of palm trees, camel caravans, fields of banana, and Persian carpets to stimulate her. However, he eventually rejects Ann and forsakes her after deflowering her. He leaves Ann desolate and depressed and begins his search for another woman. Ann must pay for her racial ideology and her advocacy of Orientalism. To quote from Mustafa:
While still in the throes of fantasy, intoxication and madness, I took her and she accepted, for what happened had already happened between us a thousand years ago. They found her dead in her flat in Hampstead, having gassed herself: they also found a note saying: "Mr Sa'eed, God damn you!" (Salih 90)
By referring to what happened between them a thousand years ago, Mustafa hints at imperialism. He punishes Ann Hammond as a member of the British society whose behavior and thoughts reflects the ideology of those who invaded the East a thousand years ago. Mustafa would not consider Ann as an enemy if she loved him for the sake of himself and did not behave him based on the principles of Orientalism. Ann's pursuit of Orientalism leads to her destruction. Since Orientalism is at the service of imperialism and colonialism, Ann deserves to be called a victim of these orientalist discourse.
Sheila Greenwood, a waitress in a Soho restaurant in London, is another British woman who falls victim in her relationship with Mustafa Sa'eed. Though not as educated as Ann Hammond, Sheila Greenwood continues the same process and confirms the dominant dogmatic attitudes of colonizers towards the East with her prejudiced behaviour. Despite the fact that she is a simple country girl, Sheila is obsessed with the principles of colonial discourse. She loves Mustafa for the same reason that Ann Hammond did, and seeks from him a wonderful world in which she can find the symbols of eastern exoticism. She refers to the black colour of Mustafa's skin as the marvellous colour of magic, mystery and obscenities. Mustafa promises to marry her but later refuses to fulfil his promise:
I seduced her with gifts and honeyed words, and an unfaltering way of seeing things as they really are. It was my world, so novel to her, that attracted her. The smell of burning sandalwood and incense made her dizzy; she stood for a long time laughing at her image in the mirror as she fondled the ivory necklace I had placed like a noose round her beautiful neck. She entered my bedroom a chaste virgin and when she left it she was carrying the germs of self-destruction within her. She died without a single word passing her lips--my storehouse of hackneyed phrases is inexhaustible. (Salih 23)
Mustafa adopts different names in his affairs with these women and rejects them one by one following their defloration. He changes his status in London from a non-northern Other to a colonizer who colonizes and ravishes the British women whom he identifies with western cities to be conquered. In his 'reverse colonization' he is the master and his British mistresses are the colonized subjects. Sheila Greenwood adores him as the epitome of eastern primitivism and masculinity and calls Mustafa her master. Nonetheless, outside Mustafa's room Sheila turns to a racist again. She reminds Mustafa that despite her love for Mustafa, he is still a man of the inferior race. Sheila tells Mustafa "my mother would go mad and my father would kill me if they knew I was in love with a black man" (Salih 86). Sheila's degradation of Mustafa and his race enrages him and brings about her destruction. Mustafa treats her just in the same way that he did in the case of Ann Hammond, and eventually she commits suicide.
Mustafa's thirst for British women caused by both his sense of revenge and his unconscious desire for 'grasping white civilization and dignity' through liaison with white women directs him to other preys. He comes across Isabella Seymour, the wife of a surgeon and mother of three children. Mustafa introduces himself to Isabella as Amin Hassan. He persuades Isabella to go to his bedroom where an ominous fate awaits her. Isabella's voluptuous body delights Mustafa, but not even having a pleasurable sex with her can detach Mustafa from his retaliation against colonialism and those who advocate it. He compares himself to the Nile that is like a snake ready to kill its victims:
Mr Mustafa, the bird has fallen into the snare. The Nile, that snake god, has gained a new victim. The city has changed into a woman [...] You, my lady, may not known; but you--like Carnarvon when he entered Tutan-Khamen's tomb--have been infected with a deadly disease which has come from you know not where and which will bring about your destruction, be it sooner or later. (Salih 25)
Mustafa compares Isabella to Lord Carnarvon, an aristocrat British Egyptologist who excavated the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun wherein a precious treasure had been buried alongside the young pharaoh. For Mustafa, both Isabella and Lord Carnarvon are the colonizers who search unique eastern objects to possess. Isabella regards Mustafa as a phenomenal object to be dissected: "She gazed hard and long at me as though seeing me as a symbol rather than reality" (Salih 28). Isabella neglects Mustafa's individuality, hence her destiny coincides with the previous British women who treated Mustafa based on the teachings of Orientalism. She admires Mustafa's Oriental characteristics and expects him to satisfy her sexual desires. Mustafa relates Isabella's fervour where Isabella tells him "ravish me, you African demon. Burn me in the fire of your temple, you black god. Let me twist and turn in your wild and impassioned rites" (Salih 66). Later she calls Mustafa her god: "O pagan god of mine. You are my god and there is no god but you" (Salih 67). Mustafa's knowledge of Isabella's interests is perfect. He knows how to seduce her with fake stories about Africa that are in accordance with Isabella's expectations:
I related to her fabricated stories about deserts of golden sands and jungles where non-existent animals called out to one another. I told her that the streets of my country teemed with elephants and lions and that during siesta time crocodiles crawled through it. Half-credulous, half-disbelieving, she listened to me, laughing and closing her eyes, her cheeks reddening [...] There came a moment when I felt I had been transformed in her eyes into a naked, primitive creature, a spear in one hand and arrows in the other, hunting elephants and lions in the jungles. (Salih 24-25)
Angry with Isabella's degrading behaviour, Mustafa forsakes her after the fulfilment of his sexual desires and drives her to madness. He behaves Isabella as a useless object which in not needed anymore. Mustafa shatters Isabella emotionally and feels no remorse for his apathetic behaviour when the catastrophe happens. He confesses to have been an impassive individual in his life: "I was like something rounded, made of rubber: you throw it in the water and it doesn't get wet, you throw it on the ground and it bounces back" (Salih 14). When the tension is created and they are close to the catastrophe, Isabella beseeches Mustafa to stop it but it is in vain and the outcome is frustration:
When we were at the climax of the tragedy she cried out weakly; "No. No." This will be of no help to you now. The critical moment when it was in your power to refrain from taking the first step has been lost [...] As for now the flood of events has swept you along, as it does every person, and you are no longer capable of doing anything. Were every person to know when to refrain from taking the first step many things would have been changed. (Salih 28)
Mustafa refers to colonization when he notes that it is too late to refrain. She must accept the outcome of the disease that infected her one thousand years ago. Apart from being a British citizen, Isabella is a defender of Orientalism with her colonial frame of mind. Had her country not destroyed Sudan with "the army of occupation", and had she not considered Mustafa as a beast in the jungle, she would not have been in such a wretched condition. Isabella is the third British woman who commits suicide at the end of her relationship with Mustafa Sa'eed.
Among Mustafa's British mistresses, the most significant and interesting is Jean Morris. She is the one who accelarates Mustafa's destruction. Unlike the previous women, Jean is not interested in the eastern features that Mustafa carries with himself to London. Neither Mustafa's extraordinary male potency nor his famous Oriental room affects Jean Morris. She is a racist who attempts to destroy Mustafa's individuality, mock his Oriental characteristics and smash the valuable objects that symbolize eastern culture in Mustafa's room. Since Jean does not surrender herself to Mustafa easily, a burning desire to have her dominates Mustafa. He falls in love with Jean and pursues her for three years. He compares himself to a camel rider in search of a mirage by the name of Jean Morris: "My caravans were parched with thirst and the mirage glimmered in front of me in the desert of longing" (Salih 58).
Jean belittles Mustafa in every party and gathering but he never gives up his hope. Whenever Mustafa asks Jean to dance with him, she rejects him and emphasizes that she would not dance with him if he were the only man in the world. She responds harshly to any aggressive behaviour of Mustafa: "When I slapped her cheeks, she kicked me and bit into my arm with teeth like those of a lioness" (Salih 96). However, a kind of flexibility is later seen in jean's treatment of Mustafa. This flexibility is not due to Love, though. She accepts to marry Mustafa in order to mentally dominate and destroy him. Jean Morris is the only British woman whom Mustafa really loves and intends to marry. She does not agree to cohabit with Mustafa despite the fact that she is a dissolute and lascivious woman: "You're a savage bull that does not weary of the chase [...] I am tired of your pursuing me and of my running before you. Marry me" (Salih 97). Mustafa is devoted to Jean and never thinks of behaving her as he did in the case of the previous women he deuced, but the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer cannot last successfully. Mustafa, who turns out to be the colonized in his contact with Jean, faces humiliation everyday and his role changes from the hunter to the prey. "She is not a prey that he has found out and circles for the kill, but she is a fellow hunter, keeping her fatal weapons aimed at him" (Stampfl 188). Jean assumes the role of a racist colonizer whose aggression and hatred disappoints Mustafa and reminds him that he is the weaker one:
[...] in the encounter with Jean Morris, he is the one yearning for her, while she stands as the defiant despot leading the war, and symbolising the armies of the Empire, while the other women symbolised the Orientalists' attraction to the mysterious East. Jean Morris shows Mustafa the other face of London/ the Empire; transforming him from the hunter to the prey and reminding him that he is the slave and she the master in the East-West encounter. (Salhi and Netton 33).
Jean Morris considers Mustafa as an 'inferior Other'. She insults him in every occasion. In one case in a pub, she shouts at him and calls him the son of a bitch and when Mustafa hits her she responds by kicking him. Jean's hostility results in continuous wars between Mustafa and her. Despite the fact that they are formally married, Mustafa and Jean have no sex with each other. Jean always postpones having sex with Mustafa in spite of his thirst. She attempts not only to enrage Mustafa but also to debase his native culture. She knows that Mustafa yearns for her to fulfil his sexual desire and possibly to complete his conquest of the West, hence proposes that she surrenders herself to Mustafa if he breaks and destroys the valuable artefacts in his room, especially the Oriental objects that represent the culture of that dark side of the world:
[...] she stripped off her clothes and stood naked before me. All the fires of hell blazed within my breast. Those fires had to be extinguished in that mountain of ice that stood in my path. As I advanced towards her, my limbs trembling, she pointed to an expensive Wedgwood vase on the mantelpiece. "Give this to me and you can have me," she said. If she had asked at that moment for my life as a price I would have paid it. I nodded my head in agreement. Taking up the vase, she smashed it on the ground and began trampling the pieces underfoot. She pointed to a rare Arabic manuscript on the table. "Give me this too," she said. My throat grew dry with a thirst that almost killed me. I must quench it with a drink of icy water. I nodded my head in agreement. Taking up the old, rare manuscript she tore it to bits, filling her mouth with pieces of paper which she chewed and spat out. It was as though she had chewed at my very liver. And yet I didn't care. (Salih 96-97)
Jean continues to destroy Mustafa's precious objects including his silken prayer-rug which she throws on to the fireplace, but again she refuses to copulate with him. She jabs Mustafa in his genitals that represent his extraordinary sexual potency. According to Frantz Fanon, most white people consider a black man as the symbol of sexual power:
As for the Negroes, they have tremendous sexual powers. What do you expect, with all the freedom they have in their jungles! They copulate at all times and in all places. They are really genital [...] For the majority of white men the Negro represents the sexual instinct (in its raw state). The Negro is the incarnation of a genital potency beyond all moralities and prohibitions. The women among the whites, by a genuine process of induction, invariably view the Negro as the keeper of the impalpable gate that opens into the realm of orgies, of bacchanals, of delirious sexual sensations. (Fanon 121-136)
Mustafa's hallucinating sexual power is the source of sexual fulfilment for Ann Hammond, Isabella Seymour, and Sheila Greenwood. Nevertheless, Jean Morris kicks Mustafa in his genitals to imply that she does not care about his wonderful male potency, just in the same way that she is not affected by his Oriental exoticism or the fake stories about Africa that he related to the previous British women. She has sexual intercourse with many British men to enrage Mustafa and never mind his threats of killing her:
She used to like flirting with every Tom, Dick and Harry whenever we went out together [...] I knew she was being unfaithful to me. The whole house was impregnated with the smell of infidelity [...] "You're being unfaithful to me," I said to her. "Suppose I am being unfaithful to you," she said. "I swear I'll kill you," I shouted at her. "You only say that," she said with a jeering smile. "What's stopping you from killing me? What are you waiting for? Perhaps you're waiting till you find a man lying on top of me, and even then I don't think you'd do anything. You'd sit on the edge of the bed and cry." (Salih 99-100)
Jean looks down on Mustafa as an inferior primitive African who deserves humiliation. The continuation of her hostile behaviour disappoints Mustafa. He realizes that Jean is his destiny and in her lies his destruction. Mustafa and Jean come to the end of their tragic relationship when Mustafa reaches the point of no return from killing her. He remarks that he has no safe return from the stormy seas of the North: "I was the pirate sailor and Jean Morris the shore of destruction" (Salih 98). Their relationship ends in a cold February evening when snow is spreading everywhere in the streets of the North. Mustafa comes from the warmth of the South to fight the cold and he finds the cold in that evening naked on the bed with her thighs open. Having a knife in his hand, he joins Jean in the bed. Jean claims to have been waiting for Mustafa, but in contrast to the previous women who admired Mustafa's body and the black colour of his skin, she abhors Mustafa and his annoying glances:
My glances overwhelmed her and she turned her face from me, but the effect was apparent in the area below her waist which she shifted from right to left, raising herself slightly off the bed; then she settled down, her arms thrown out languorously, and resumed looking at me. I looked at her breast and she too looked at where my glance had fallen, as though she had been robbed of her own volition and was moving in accordance with my will. I looked at her stomach and as she followed my gaze a faint expression of pain came over her face. (Salih 100)
Jean abominates Mustafa's glances at her naked body, because she regards him as an animal. She prefers death to interracial sex. She kisses the knife and lies on the bed. Mustafa utters his love for Jean and presses down the knife into Jean's chest. He kills Jean and disembarks his ship in the shore of destruction. Mustafa's assimilation into the western culture and his migration to the North led to his hybridity, the suicide of three British women who were obsessed with Orientalism, murder of Jean Morris, and finally his own suicide in Sudan. All of them are victims of colonialism. In Mustafa's trial in a courtroom in London, Professor Maxwell Foster-Keen, Mustafa's former teacher in the university, defends him. He remarks that a series of adventures that started one thousand years ago brought about the tragedy:
Mustafa Sa'eed, gentlemen of the jury; is a noble person whose mind was able to absorb Western civilization but it broke his heart. These girls were not killed by Mustafa Sa'eed but by the germ of a deadly disease that assailed them a thousand years ago. (Salih 21-22)
This deadly disease is related to imperialism and its consequences. All of the British women in Season are the advocates of colonial discourse. Mustafa justifies his punishment of these women and claims to have remained in London to take his revenge on the supporters of imperial policies by his genitals: "I liberate Africa with my penis" (Salih 74). He considers his conquest of the British women, which is a kind of reverse colonization, as a response to the oppression and humiliation imposed on his nation by the British colonizers.
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Peyman Amanolahi Baharvand
English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University
North Tehran Branch, Iran.
Peyman Amanolahi Baharvand, is a PhD. candidate in English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, North Tehran Branch, Iran. His research focuses on English and American literature.
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|Author:||Baharvand, Peyman Amanolahi|
|Publication:||Forum for World Literature Studies|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2018|
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