In his chapter about beginnings, David Lodge begins his chapter with a description of a character named Emma Woodhouse. This leads to the questioning of when a novel actually begins. He states, “when does a novel begin?…certainly the creation of a novel rarely begins with the penning or typing of its first words”(4). After reading part two and three of this novel, I still completely agree with this statement. In my first post, I quoted Farah, “and the anxiety to become a fully grown man, a man ready for a conscription into the liberation army, ready to die and kill for his mother country” (109). This statement alluded to the actual beginning of the novel, which I predicted would be in part two. I was correct; the plot begins on page 181. Askar finds out that Misra was accused of betraying a freedom fighters’ camp in which six hundred men lost their lives. Now that Askar found out about Misra’s betrayal, he is torn between what to do. He says, “I felt I knew I had to betray one of them. I had to betray either Misra, who had been like a mother to me, or my mother country” (180), here Askar needs to make this very important decision that will impact his life. Here is where the novel begins in my opinion. Part one serves to portray Askar’s development as a separated identify from Misra, which leads to this point in the novel where he has to choose between his “mother” and his “mother country.
“We read a book slowly and hesitantly, at first. We have a lot of new information to absorb and remember, such as characters names, their relationships…the contextual details of time and place” (5). This statement made by Lodge brings me to the discussion of where the novel actually begins. The novel is split into two parts for a purpose, part one serves to help the reader understand the context of the novel and the conflicts facing the main character. Without being aware of these conflicts, such as the death of his parents, the question of whether he is a male or female, and the fact that Misra is Ethiopian, we will not be able to understand the plot. To further prove my point, Dietche commentary on Point View stated that part one all happened in Askar’s head, which means that part one cannot be regarded as the beginning of the novel because nothing really actually happened. Askar believed that after his circumcision he would become his own person separated from Misra, this thought was continued in part two. In part two, Askar receives his government identity card, as Askar reads this card, he treats it as if the card itself is informing him about his identity. Askar states that he loves Somalia and that the land is his, this statement is apart from Misra’s beliefs, which proves that not does the novel begin in part two, but Askar’s identity also fully develops.