“An EPIPHANY is, literally, a showing.” “The term is now loosely applied to any descriptive passage in which external reality is charged with a kind of transcendental significance for the perceiver.”
A common theme that has become evident throughout Nuruddin Farah’s novel “Maps” is that of Askar’s conflicting and suppressing journey of being at a loss of identify, a loss of self and sense of self. On the very first page of chapter 1, one can easily point out that very theme of internal conflict of identity and self just by reading through specific lines which show lack of epiphany in Askar’s character.
“You sit, in contemplative posture, your features agonized and your expressions pained”
“Yes. You are a question to yourself. It is true.”
“You doubt, at times, if you exist outside your own thoughts, outside your own head, or Misra’s.”
According to Lodge, an epiphany is a term which is applied to any “descriptive passage in which external reality is charged with a kind of transcendental significance for the perceiver.”
Looking back at different parts of the novel, it can easily be drawn that Askar struggles with lack of epiphany and epiphany itself. Though Askar was seen as a mature child, one with the stare and glare of an adult, he was not one to truly and genuinely question his identity and belonging until reaching 18 years of age. Reaching a period of his life where he is meant and conditioned to partake in having to identify himself strictly whether it may be as a Somalian boy or simply as Askar. However, every time Askar tried to reconcile with his inner self, tried to realize and put a hand on who he really is, he was not able to truly grasp the creation that is him as being only himself, only Askar. External events have caused Askar to knot himself with his other half, Misra (his adoptive mother). Through Askar’s explanations, whether they may be through third person stories, first person monologues, or second person speeches, Askar has always been affiliated with Misra, being her other half, her other breast which he was pressed upon sexually, her other arm which he was pulled with closely, her other leg which chased him and walked overtly around him. It has all reached a point to which Askar has neglected and does not care for his physical identification, whether he is a boy or a girl. However, what matters most to him now, after being so attached mentally, physically, emotionally, and sexually to Misra, is always being a part of her. Askar is unable to answer any question about himself without bringing Misra into the picture. Above all this, he is unable to realize his confusion, his conflict, his loss and his barrier.
Lodge also stated: “Even before he gets to the main subject of this paragraph he sets the scene with an effortlessly vivid description of the fruit tree..”
When relating this to Map’s text, it is obvious that the lack of “vivid description” and “setting the scene” is what draws the conclusion that Askar has not reached epiphany just yet. Throughout the first part of the novel, many instants and parts of the plot are elaborated on, yes. However, they are presented simply and shortly, but abundantly, simply as a use of emphasis on the theme. If Farah presented Askar with a more vivid and emotional vocabulary when elaborating on every topic, every instant, an epiphany is most likely taking place as it is a realization and phenomena of great importance and value to the perceiver (Askar).