Literature, Language, and Life

Home » Uncategorized » Chapters/Divisions in Maps pt.2 (Amina)

Chapters/Divisions in Maps pt.2 (Amina)

David Lodge asserts that dividing texts into chapters or parts “gives the narrative, and the reader, time to take breath, as it were, in the intervening pauses”. Furthermore, he contends that the divisions may function as “transitions between different times or places in the action”.

My opinion regarding the function of the chapter divisions (to change point of view) and divisions within the chapters (to formally separate between stories/ideas as to not hinder the audience’s understanding) stands. My opinion about the division of the novel into parts had developed and will be discussed in more depth, as promised in the previous blog post. In my previous blog post, I said that Maps was divided into two parts, however, after completing the novel, I came to realize that it was actually divided into three parts.

Part one includes six chapters while part two and three each include three chapters. Part one is distinguishable from part two and three in that it focuses more on the collection of Askar’s memories. There are a lot of flashbacks and little structure or order. The audience most likely experiences the most confusion in part one, as opposed to the rest of the book, as part one is practically a reflection of Askar’s thoughts and recollections.

The interlude functions as a separation between part one and the rest of the novel. It may be structured this way due to the fact that part two and three are fairly similar, while part one follows an extremely different structure and serves a dissimilar purpose. Thus, the interlude breaks up the book into two halves. But in what way do these halves differ?

As stated earlier part one focuses more on Askar’s memories. Part two and three, on the other hand, follow a more set structure and chronological timeline. They also focus more on a plot, and are consequently less fragmented.  I found part two and three difficult to distinguish from one another. However, when I took a closer look, I realized that part two begins when Askar arrives in Mogadishu and ends after he has met and gotten better acquainted with Misra. Part three, on the other hand, explores the rekindling of Askar and Misra’s relationship.

Lodge also contends that the chapters and divisions also may have “Expressive rhetorical effects, especially if it has a textual heading, in the form of a title, quotation, or summary of contents”

The quote in the Interlude: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” This quote, by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, is particularly fitting for this novel. Part one is the portion of the novel that allows the audience to understand the story, but in a confusing, backwards way. Part two and three, on the other hand, are presented in forward, clear, manner, but can only be understood by reading part one. Thus, the novel practically embodies this quote. Farah is simply saying: don’t worry audience, everything is about to start making sense.

The quote in the beginning of part two: The quote by Joseph Conrad states “All is illusion- the words written, the mind at which they are aimed, the truth they are intended to express, the hands that will hold the paper, the eyes that will glance at the lines. Every image floats vaguely in a sea of doubt- and the doubt itself is lost in an unexplored universe of incertitude”. This quote may refer to the maps, which are made up of lines, words, and images that are essentially all part of an illusion. The idea of incertitude in cartography is discussed in a conversation between Uncle Hilaal and Askar, resembling the gist of quote.

The quote in the beginning of part three: “who shall deliver me from this body of death” is a quote from the Bible (Romans 7:24). This quote is expressed apostle expresses his desire to depart from the body in order to enjoy an immortal life, and rid himself of the corruption and burdens of mortal life. This quote resonates with part three, as there are several instances where Askar notes that there is life in death and death in life. Misra’s death also may be related to this quote, as she freed from a life of false fault and an unclear identity.


  1. nour97 says:

    Very insightful, I enjoyed reading this post because originally I did think much of the purpose behind the divisions. I found it very interesting that the quote before the interlude actually embodies the entire novel. This idea is very related to my post because you stated that part one was written in a backwards way, which is due to Farah’s intention of setting up Askar’s identity. However, part two was written in a more structural and chronological way, this is because part two is where the plot actually starts o place, making part two the beginning of the novel. I also found the quote in the beginning of part two and your interpretation of it very interesting. This brings me to a new found appreciation of the title, for that it can mean literals maps, or the map that guides Askar to his epiphany about his identity, or that Maps define literal borders of the countries, and that ones self exists beyond these defined arbitrary rules. I also found that the quote in part three could be considered a second theme of the novel, the theme of death. Askar would constantly tell Misra in part one that he must kill her in order to live, thus concluding that in fact there is life in death and death in life.

  2. ozy96 says:

    This is a pretty good, well done. As i read i got the feeling that the novel is not supposed to be written in chronological order and the use of first, second, and third narrators is supposed to give a feeling of confusion. I say this because Askar and the land both undergo a struggle of identity. very interesting post, the idea that death can be a second theme of the novel is explains a lot.

  3. ozy96 says:

    This is a pretty good post, well done. As i read i got the feeling that the novel is not supposed to be written in chronological order and the use of first, second, and third narrators is supposed to give a feeling of confusion. I say this because Askar and the land both undergo a struggle of identity. Also the idea that death can be a second theme of the novel is explains a lot to me that i had previously not understood.

  4. lanahasan8 says:

    After reading this blogpost it helped me understand why the chapters have been divided and how all three parts are different then each other. The book being split into three parts helped understand the book more and so did reading the interlude

  5. manal201596 says:

    great Blogpost!
    I really enjoyed reading your blogpost and it was very informational as well. It helped me better understand the book and why it was divided in to three parts. I personally like books that are divided into more then two parts because it keeps you wondering what else does the Arthur have to say and/or make the characters do. I also agree with the with what you wrote about David Lodge when he said “Asserts that dividing texts into chapter or Parts” gives the narrative, and the reader, time to take a breath, as it were, in the intervening pauses”
    Over all Great Blogpost! really enjoyed reading it;)

  6. hebazaidan says:

    This is a very well written and informative blogpost. Thank you for sharing your insight and shedding light upon the division of the chapters and interludes. I, for one, did not think much of how the book was divided. I definitely noticed the difference between the writing styles of part one and two. Part two had more clarity and had a linear timeline, while part one was confusing and often left us with no resolution. However, I did not see the difference between part 2 and 3. I think they both are unifications, but part three relies on a deeper connection. As for the three quotes; I did realize that they had to do something with the novel, but you really provided context for the intertextuality and its relation to the novel. I especially like the first quote, because it perfectly embodies how the first part is written, and I think if I paid closer attention to it, it would’ve assuaged my frustration and confusion.

  7. denagarada says:

    I agree with this blogpost, I never really paid much attention to the quotes in the interludes and how they connected to the novel or the preceding texts, but I can definitely see the connection now. The chapters and divisions, i feel, were made and set up like that to confuse the reader just like Askar.
    I also believe that Amina’s point about this novel not being written in chronological order ties in with Nour’s topic about beginnings. I don’t think this book is written in order of events, which is why i don’t think the beginning of the story is the first page or even the first part. As i stated in Nour’s comment, the book starts when Misra visits Askar in Mogadishu asking for Askar’s forgiveness/approval, and all chapters before that are just his recollections and his means of making a decision.
    Based on the divisions of the book, i definitely agree that Part 1 is the most confusing due to the jumping and flipping back and forth between past events. As the book progresses, it gets clearer and clearer how the events tie into his identity now and his decision. And obviously i think this was done on purpose. When confronted with an issue, one is first confused, startled and inquisitive. As the brain starts to pick apart the pros and cons of the matter, things become clearer and a decision is made. I think that works with this book’s order as well. Askar is confused when confronted by present day Misra, and that shows in Part 1 and all the flashbacks. Then in Part 2 things become clearer as he is starting to craft his own opinion on the matter. And in Part 3, themes and specific messages have evolved indicating a development in the plot and in Askar’s self establishment.

  8. abdullahaly97 says:

    This post was very enlightening and insightful in that it clarified and explained how the first part of the novel interacts with the second and third parts. I think that they explain each other or that what’s after the interlude is dependent on the reader knowing about the first part.

    I like the quote that is quoted before the Interlude and how you explained its relevance to the novel and how the novel is structured around the idea of understanding life “backwards”.

  9. eabulhawa says:

    Very insightful blog post. It helped clarify how the book is divided and the way you weaved intertextuality into the divisions was very interesting. I also liked how you connected the quotes back to the characters and themes of the novel. I agree with what you said about part 1 being more confusing and part 2 being more clear and easier to follow the plot.

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