Literature, Language, and Life

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Duration Part Two (Nasser)

Duration continues to be a significant factor in the development of the central conflict, Askar’s search to discover who he truly is amidst the instability and dispute riddled Somali-Ethiopia region, throughout the rest of the novel. In The Interlude, Part Two and Part Three, Farah continues to use duration as a method to dictate the rhythm, tempo and flow of events within the novel. He selectively chooses what events to quickly glance over, and what events to vividly establish and describe based on their pertinence to the central theme of the novel noted above. An example of Farah doing so comes on page 125 where he details Askar’s preparation to travel to Mogadishu; Farah describes the different interaction that Askar has with various characters, such as Misra or Uncle Hilaal or Uncle Qorrax. Farah describes this event briefly, rather than dwelling on it. Farah does this because this event is not particularly relevant to Askar’s struggle to resolve the identity dilemma he faces, as he is unsure whom to side with, his Somali background as his father was a soldier who gave his life to that cause, or the civility of the Ethiopian side, from which the women who raised him hails. Thus, because this event is not relatively significant to that, Farah quickly describes it, rather than lingering over it. This reiterates Farah’s lack of consideration for the duration of events in real time, as this event would have taken much more time than Farah allotted.

The idea of Farah neglecting realistic duration by vividly depicting scenarios that would occur quickly in reality comes in his description of flashbacks. Farah chooses to have Askar recollect a series of events such as his interactions with Hilaal’s maid, or his feelings about Uncle Qorrax and Hilaal, from pages 144 to 149. Farah does this to illustrate the extent of the confusion and disillusionment that is found in Askar’s mind, as he constantly finds himself going through flashbacks and dwelling on them, even if they are seemingly irrelevant to the story. The writer is showing that one of the causes of Askar’s internal struggle is his inability to get over the past, as the frequent and long flashbacks that are detailed, are meant to stress this.

1 Comment

  1. kbdoyle09 says:

    Nasser, great post! I view Askar’s tendency to dwell on particular moments of the past as his refusal to relinquish his personal memories in favor of nationalistic generalities as he navigates through the process of establishing an individual identity. His personal memories are uniquely his, as opposed to his name, the description of him on his identity card, or any other definition ascribed to him by external forces. As such, they are much more indicative of who he truly is than anything else. That’s why he draws his own maps, and finds truth in them.

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