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Home » Uncategorized » Epiphany (or the LACK of epiphany): Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Part 1 of Farah’s Maps

Epiphany (or the LACK of epiphany): Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Part 1 of Farah’s Maps

“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).


  1. alzahra97 says:

    Good job Dana I really enjoyed reading your blogpost. I thought it was very interesting that you chose to apply Lodge’s ideas about epiphany by discussing how it’s NOT mentioned or applied in part 1 of Maps.
    I also agree with you, I don’t think that Askar reach an epiphany in part 1 of the novel. According to Lodge, before the epiphany there are ‘effortlessly vivid descriptions’. Though Farah uses many detailed and vivid descriptions, they are not effortlessly described. In chapter 3, the dream delineated by Farah is very vivid but very overwhelming to the reader.

  2. noraalmuhanna says:

    This blog post is really interesting. In my opinion epiphany, or, in this case, the lack of epiphany, is very important to consider and touch on in the novel “Maps” as the novels theme identifies with Askars lack of sense of self. I believe that Askar might experience epiphany later on in the book as his questions may be answered later allowing him to realize who/what he truly is. Here’s a question for thought though, what if his epiphany is the realization that his life is to be questioned?
    A+ Dana, good job!

  3. eabulhawa says:

    Great job Dana! I agree with Zahra. I found it interesting how you chose to talk about how there is a lack of epiphany rather than the epiphany itself. I agree with you to some extent. Yes, there was no evidence for an epiphany in the first few chapters of the book as he identifies as an extension of Misra, but later in the book Askar begins to question things. He says “Who am I? Who am I? Where am I? Where am I? Who am I? Misra was not there. I was alone. And no one told me where I was, no one told me who I was.” (97) Here Askar begins to realize that he is in fact alone, with no one to identify who he is but himself. This could be seen as the beginning of an epiphany, in this case Askar realizing that he is his own person. He has yet to figure out who the person is or what it believes in, but he knows he is alone.

  4. ojastaniah says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I found your point of view on his lack of epiphany extremely interesting. I also find it interesting how you associate the lack of “vivid description” with him not reaching epiphany yet. I agree with your opinion on that basis. I feel like Askar’s descriptions in the first part do lack effortlessness that Lodge describes. It might be due to him actively trying to process the information given to him and surrounding him.

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