David Lodge starts off this chapter with this excerpt from the book Scenes from Provincial Life (1950). When reading this passage, I was a bit appalled. Although the events are not blatantly being described, the suggested actions can still be inferred. This is precisely the reason for the use of implication in a novel. An implication is a conclusion that can be drawn from something, without it being explicitly stated. This technique is usually used when the author is speaking or describing something that is taboo or inappropriate/ an innuendo in the culture or society.
In the Victorian period, sex was treated with much greater discretion. However as time progressed, sexual references became less taboo. With novels such as The Folks that Live on the Hill, sex was used as a part of casual speech. I believe, however, that other factors and concepts began to become offensive or beyond limits. I think sexual references were now permitted, depending on whom those actions involved. Which brings me to Maps. While reading this novel, I found it to be quite odd and uncomfortable. However I realized that the sexual references weren’t offensive to me, but whom they involved. For instance, our class’ reaction to Misra and the Sheikh having sex wasn’t the problem, but the issue was that they were doing in front of a child, in front of Askar. And if the book said that Misra was breast-feeding her own biological child, we wouldn’t have had a problem with that. The issue and taboo aspect of this novel is Misra and Askar’s intimate and close relationship, one between a woman and an unknown child. Because of this fact, Farah uses implication and metaphors to conceal the intensity of this novel’s sexual references.
Implication is a particularly useful technique in the treatment of sexuality. I believe in Maps, Farah uses implication along side metaphors and similes to conceal the explicit sexuality of the book. When Askar is referred as Misra’s third breast or leg, it is symbolizing and representing his connection to her as if they were one. This symbolism and use of metaphor is used to help Askar find his sense of self and a place to belong. This leads to the main theme of self-discovery and identity.
Another counter argument about the use of implication in Maps is the lack there of. It is evident that Farah blatantly and explicitly mentions sexual activities. This can be used to contribute to the theme of attachment and obstruction in self-discovery. By Askar being closely connected and attached to Misra’s life, it hinders the process every person’s crucial development, identity establishment and discovery. It also contributes to Askar’s personality and character development. This is shown in aspects in Askar’s later years, where he tends to not filter his words and thoughts; for instance when he flat out tells Misra he wants to kill her.
Implication also comes hand in hand with diction and figurative language. Diction and implication play a part in the novel describing Misra’s forced abortion. Although it is not explicitly stated, it is described that they stomped and jumped on her stomach while she was pregnant. Due to the intensity of the topic, Farah uses a precise choice of words to imply the events of that scene, and to shine a light on the oppression and sexual harassment in the book/society at the time.
To recap, I believe that implication is used to conceal or decrease the intensity of some scenes, without explicitly stating them. It can also help in referring to social and cultural issues, such as oppression and identity crises/self-discovery. Implication is most often used hand in hand with metaphors and similes, to symbolize and convey the significance of the event. Lodge concludes his chapter by stating, “it is better, much better, guessed at than described.”