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Home » Uncategorized » Blogpost on Coincidence: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Part 2 and 3 of Farah’s Maps

Blogpost on Coincidence: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Part 2 and 3 of Farah’s Maps


As Lodge presents in the introduction of this chapter, “coincidence, which surprises us in real life with symmetries we don’t expect to find there, is all too obviously a structural device in fiction, and an excessive reliance on it can jeopardize the verisimilitude of a narrative…Through coincidence, intriguing and instructive connections could be contrived between people who would not normally have had anything to do with each other.”

Just as in Part 1, Farah does not rely too heavily on the use of coincidences in the second part of the novel, Maps. Instead he includes only a few coincidences in his novel and emphasizes the aftermath of these coincidences. The main coincidence featured in the second part of the novel is when Salaado overhears two nurses talking in the grocery store, where she heard them “talk about what one of them described as ‘the corpse of a woman, black as dead shark’. Later on, Salaado recognizes their description of the dead woman to be Misra when they mention the mastectomy operation on the corpse (Farah 253-254). Through this coincidence we get a clear description of what happened to Misra after she went missing.

“If it doesn’t seem contrived, in the reading, that is partly because it is virtually the only twist in the entire plot”

Though this is not the only coincidence in the novel, there was a great space placed between this coincidence and that of Askar’s existence in the beginning of the novel (18 years of Askar’s life). Because of this great space and the many events that occur in between the two coincidences, this feature that Farah presents to us does not seem contrived or unrealistic.

 “If it works in narrative terms it is because certain clues have been planted earlier in the text…thus skepticism about a coincidence is deflected by satisfactorily solving an enigma…and also by putting emphasis on [Robyn’s] successful intervention rather than on her perception of the coincidence.”

Since this coincidence is placed a lot later on in the novel than the first coincidence is, there is a lot of room for Farah to plant clues in his text so that the audience does not feel as though the coincidence of Salaado hearing about Misra’s whereabouts is too improbable. Right before Salaado discusses what she heard in the grocery store, the audience feels her reluctance to tell Askar the news and Askar’s eagerness to heat what Salaado has to say to him. In this way, Farah prepares his audience for the coincidence he is about to present to them by giving clues that Salaado is about to tell Askar important and almost unrealistic news about Misra. Also, Farah does avoid skepticism of the coincidence by placing emphasis on the aftermath of the coincidence rather than the event itself. Instead of the characters discussing the probability of this coincidence occurring, Askar and the rest begin to discuss what Suras were read in Misra’s janaaaza and therefore Farah avoids skepticism of the coincidence he presents to us.


  1. kbdoyle09 says:

    Very insightful post! I would also add that Farah’s depiction of the pervasive social, political, and emotional chaos of the setting (both time and place) leaves the reader no choice but to accept even the most improbable of scenarios.

  2. noraalmuhanna says:

    I think the reason why the audience doesn’t think that coincidence is unrealistic is because its so crucial to the plot, without this coincidence happening we wouldn’t find out where Misra is and what happened to her. And thats such a big important part of the book, we needed this coincidence to happen for us to be able to understand the plot of this novel.
    Very interesting, good job Zahra.

  3. This blogpost provided me with some good insight on coincidence, and good job zahra. I definitely agree that coincidence plays an important role in a storyline. I feel that in part two especially shifted the structure and storyline towards Askar feeling guilt and bitterness towards himself for the way he’s treated Misra. Without coincidence we wouldn’t know or feel the emotions that are running through the novel when Misra disappears. Misra’s death added a whole new element to the structure of the novel leaving unfinished ideas and plot changes that leave us hanging even when the storyline comes to end.

  4. samiajrab says:

    This was cool, Zahra! When reading Maps or any book for that matter I think it can be difficult to recognize strategically written parts of the plot. I also think that too many coincidences can make a story seem unrealistic. As you presented in this blogpost, however, one coincidence is Salaados’s encounter with the ladies at the grocery store. I think that this coincidence is just subtle enough to attract the readers attention while keeping the story realistic. It’s only fitting that the story remain realistic given the historical context of the novel. Thanks for sharing Zahra

  5. moss28 says:

    I never thought about coincidence and how it would play a role in this novel. However, the explanation and use of examples were clear and helped me understand coincidence more. I liked how you explained that Farah intends to hint at readers of the upcoming coincidence that is going to happen.

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