Stuck Between Two Worlds Everyone has an identity and culture unique to him or her. The development of your identity is the result of the displacements and struggles you experience in your life. In the texts “No Telephone to Heaven” and “Seasons of Migration to the North,” both protagonists experience living in two different cultures where they thrive and struggle and that ultimately helps them develop or discover their true self-identity. To understand the underlying tendencies and characteristics of each character we need to look into the different experiences each individual experienced.
The most compelling evidence in, “Seasons of Migration,” is the displacement and change of identity that occurs. In “Seasons of Migration,” the reader learns the story of the Mustafa Sa’eed, the newest villager in the narrator’s town. Mustafa has a complicated view with western culture, which comes out of tensions he, experiences in London. The people of London exotify Mustafa. “It seems he was a showpiece exhibited by members of the aristocracy who in the twenties and early thirties were affecting liberalism” (58). The people that did love Mustafa, befriended him because of the image he represented.
He was a man from an exotic land. “It was as though they wanted to say: Look how tolerant and liberal we are! ” (59). When it came to women Mustafa used his image to exaggerate his authenticity, which in turn, successfully made women fall deeply in love with him: “There came a moment when I felt I had been transformed in her eyes into a naked, primitive creature, a spear in one hand and arrows in the other, hunting elephants and lions in the jungles. That was fine,” (38). He used this tactic to seduce women and led them to believe that he would marry them one day.
The feelings of displacement for Mustafa were due to two eelings. First, is not fitting into the location he was headed to (London). And secondly, the return to his small village hometown, after changes in his identity and experiences have occurred. After serving a seven-year sentence for murdering his wife, Mustafa returns to his homeland in hopes to start a new more simple life. However, even though Mustafa is physically in Sudan, he cannot integrate back into is culture. “Mysterious things in my soul and in my blood impel me towards faraway parts that loom up and before me and cannot be ignored” (67).
The narrator also feels displacement from his original culture. For example, when the villagers find out Hosna is being forced to marry Wad Rayyes they find it perfectly normal. The narrator gets upset and sees this as wrong. Additionally, the narrator never talks about his life in Europe to his family because he believes they would not be able to fully understand him. The struggles of displacement, the societies they lived in, and the environments they were exposed to ultimately influenced Mustafa and the narrator, Tayeb Salih’s identity.
Clare Savage in “No Telephone to Heaven” experiences some superficial similarities. The novel follows Clare’s family’s emigration into the US. Her dark skin mother and sister move back to Jamaica, while light-skin Clare and her light-skinned father remain in the US. The move back to their hometown is motivated by their experiences of racism. The negative attitudes of whites towards blacks are instilled and internalized by blacks, resulting in Clare’s dark skin mom and sister fleeing back to the country they once fled due to social and economic troubles.
They quickly discover that America, the land of the free, has many more problems that they could ever imagine. Racism is alive and well here in America. Throughout “No Telephone to Heaven,” tensions are created or Clare in which she struggles to find a sense of belonging. She continuously fights to discover her identity. Whether her identity be in her race, her sex, her language, her nationality, her social stratification, her economic status, her individual history/ status or her families history, Clare fought to find her true identity.
Stories of Clare’s grandmother and mother are told to make this search for identity even harder for Clare. The novel incorporates so many different internal and external struggles to show readers the assimilations the colonized people had to go through. Clare goes to college in England, the motherland. She is on a search for her nationalist roots. When she doesn’t find what she is looking for she travels to Jamaica. It is then when she meets Harry/ Harriet, a transsexual, who encourages her to return to Jamaica and join the resistance movement.
It is then when Clare realizes that her roots are not in England as she once thought, but it is in Jamaica where her mother and sister once lived. She moves back, and embraces her Jamaican culture and history. It is then she discovers that her identity is intertwined in Jamaica’s identity itself. The social stratification Clare received reflects the representation of Clare finding her rue identity. Because her parents were from different classes, her mother being dark skinned and her father being light skinned, this led to her identity confusion.
She struggled with enjoying the newfound life in America and assimilating into American culture, just as her father was. Clare has to make a decision of whether she will assimilate and dismiss her black ancestry or not. She decides that she will not. Clare is offended when a girl in her class says, “needn’t take it personally,” because she is “hardly the sort they were ranting about,” (139). Clare didn’t want exclusion. Clare acknowledges her black roots s well as her white one’s. Once Clare identifies with Jamaica, the reader see’s Clare has found her true identity.
There is an interesting correlation between Clare Savage and Michelle cliff. Some implicate that Clare Savage is an autobiographical character. Cliff is a light skinned, Jamaican upper-class, lesbian feminist. Many of these traits are visible in Clare Savage. However, Cliff clarifies this in a her journal article she wrote called, “Caliban’s Daughter. ” Cliff says, “The protagonist of my two novels is named Clare Savage. She is not an autobiographical character, but an amalgam of myself and others. Michelle Cliff writes about how “we, the colonized, are also subject to ruination.
The reference to “Caliban” is rooted from an earlier time when Caribbean intellectuals struggled with issues of identity due to the process of cultural and racial admixture that shaped Caribbean societies. The “Caliban” is the island’s original inhabitant- “more beast than human… more savagery originates in the forest, on the island, transfused through the bloodiness of her savage mother.. the witch-wild woman. ” To twentieth-century Caribbean writers, “Caliban” epitomized the history of colonial oppression and regional culture of resistance. This oppression and resistance negatively affected Caribbean writers.
Though Michelle explicitly says that Clare is not an autobiographical character, Clare represents the many Caliban’s daughters and their struggle to find ones identity. In the search of ones identity, one needs to look at the terms one shares in their environment, typically reflecting on historical experiences and cultural values. In “Season’s of Migration,” Mustafa and the narrator return to their hometown, only to feel more oppressed. Living in England shaped their identity. They had adapted new social and political beliefs only to have to suppress them back in Wad Hamid.
Clare Savage experiences an almost opposite correlation. Clare and her family fled Jamaica to come to America, where everyone is mighty and brave, where equality and tolerance is abounded and where liberty frolics through the streets, or so they believed. Clare and her family experience a very different America, one where racism, misogyny, inequality, greed, and corruption thrive. Her experience in America drives Clare to flee “motherland,” in search of her identity. After years of confusion and searching in the wrong places, Clare returns back to England, the Jamaica, where she takes on her true Jamaican identity.