Category Archives: Fall 2015

Alissa

Alissa Rheinheimer

This was written for Professor Csicsila, who taught Literature 450: Mark Twain, and packed more

information into one class than some teachers covered in a whole semester, and who kept us up to date on the

latest scholarship (some of which wasn’t even public domain yet). I have always loved Mark Twain and

found Joan of Arc by chance in a bookshop, and later realized that there was a disappointingly huge lack of

scholarship to be found concerning it, though Twain called it his favorite of all his books.

Excerpts from:

“Just like . . .

how Lewis Carroll always wrote stories for children, centered around Wonderland, all of

Mark Twain’s books will make you laugh, due to his wonderful wit and irony. What’s that?

Lewis Carroll wrote essays on math? Really?”

. . . many of the classics were a result of the authors not LIKING people pushing them into a certain

spot and telling them to stay there until they were labeled. Mark Twain certainly would have a retort ready

for that event—and Joan of Arc may well be the retort. It both is and is not like his other books. It has the

major traits of a Twain work, but it is also something different. Something unique and entirely its own.

So why is it that the beautiful outlier Joan of Arc seems to have fallen right off the bridge? For some

people, it may be because they’re waiting for the trick, the trap, to be revealed. Frankly, by this point we’ve

already lost to Twain and he’s laughing in his grave. (Knowing Twain, it’s highly possible that he wrote a

serious, non-satirical novel because he knew we’d all be covering our heads and trying to duck under his

next curveball. Joke’s on us, and he didn’t even need to bother setting a pitfall.) So, is Joan of Arc really all

that different from Twain’s other works?

* * * * *

Some argue that Twain’s works generally have a “failure” in them, which often occurs when he loses

hold of his artistic ability and takes over the stage himself in some way, often due to his anger. This is said of

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s most famous works. This does

not happen in Joan of Arc. The narrator is a fictional character that is relating Joan’s story when he is 88

years old. The anger is there but faded, no longer overpowering. The sorrow is there, but has become more

peaceful. The wonder and joy of recalling who Joan was and what she did is perhaps the strongest vibe of the

story. The last chapter ends not with her death, but with her accomplishments and the moment she receives

some official recognition. Twain’s anger and despair are pushed to the side and he lets the narrator just

narrate. He never overpowers the story with external emotion, nor does he add an aside to make sure we

understand his point (like in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: “‘What do I care for your big brother? I’ve got

a brother that’s bigger than he is—and what’s more, he can throw him over that fence, too.’ [Both brothers

were imaginary.]” [Twain 27]). Rather, while you are reading this book, you forget that it was written by

Mark Twain, accomplished satirist. Thus, if judging Twain’s work by his artistic ability only, Joan of Arc

may very well be the pinnacle.

And why is it that Twain is able to hold back in this specific instance? Perhaps due to respect. His

other characters may have been based on people he knew, but he wasn’t necessarily writing about them. With

Joan, Twain is using a famous historical figure and drawing off documented court trials and other historical

material. Thus, out of respect to history and truth, and to Joan herself, Twain lets his version (the truest

version he can possibly write) tell itself.

Perhaps by working through an older narrator in this story, Twain also is learning something new.

His experiences of the world led to the realism and cynicism that held any optimism in check, yet here he

may be learning how he can still be an optimist despite all that. Joan saw death. That’s a fact of history.

Whether she actually fought or not, she saw battle. Joan was also betrayed by her king and country. And yet

before her execution began, she prayed for both. Despite the people who held her back and insulted her and

didn’t believe in her, Joan cared for all. She stayed an optimist. The end of the book makes it clear that

although she was captured and executed, she affected many of the people around her.

Twain has learned that even though you can’t obtain true freedom or fix the world, you can at least

make it a little bit better for some of the people around you. Even while there is anger and sorrow at Joan’s

death, there is wonder and joy in who she was and how she affected the world around her. Twain is

mellowing out and learning to accept, to take, what happiness the world gives, amidst all the crap that piles

up. At the conclusion of Joan of Arc, the reader does not feel frustrated or angry or sad like he or she does at

the end of Twain’s other works. Instead, the reader feels a little bit of everything in a strange, nostalgic

mixture of heartrending joy and sorrow, fear and hope. And somehow, despite that tumult of emotion, you

end up feeling a little bit like . . . you’re at peace. And for a writer who never backs down, who is a skeptic of

everything, this is a finale that is something truly new and unique.

Works Cited (shortened)

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Platt &

Munk, 1960. Print.

This entry is part of my research paper for Professor Neufeld, Literature 411 Epic and Romance.

This was an amazing class where we drew connections between genres centuries apart (such as

paralleling comic books to The Odyssey and Pulp Fiction to Arthurian Romance). I was excited for this

assignment because I love videogames and I have always enjoyed debunking claims (“videogames are

just entertainment” or “the Arthurian Romance is dead”).

Excerpts from: Yvain, Lancelot, and . . . Link?

Before you read this essay, there is a song you must listen to, so pull out your computer or phone

or what-have-you and google YouTube, then search for “Legend of Zelda Theme” and choose any of the

resulting videos (as there are many variations of this theme, from the original Nintendo Entertainment

System version to the 25th Anniversary Orchestrated version). Go ahead and listen.

This space is where you should be listening to the lovely music and NOT reading. Yes, seriously.

Now, if you’re anything like the many fans of the video game series The Legend of Zelda, you

should feel pumped to go out into a fantastical world and take on monsters (and find a lady or two).

Ah, the perilous trials to overcome! For you, the player, are the hero, holder of part of the mysterious

Triforce, left by the goddesses who created the world, and the symbol of the land’s religion. . . . Now

there are many, many stories out there about heroes fighting monsters and winning love, especially in the

genre of Romance. No, no, no, no, no. Get that sparkly vampire out of your head! We’re talking Arthurian

Romance, the Knights of the Round Table and all that. Whew, now that we got that clarified, we can

actually come to the point: video games still reflect the problems inherent in movies and books, and video

game narratives can be better understood through studying older narrative forms. Here, I focus on the

medieval literary Romance genre and on the video game series The Legend of Zelda, specifically one of

the key games in the series—Ocarina of Time. Don’t worry. I won’t make you look anything else up. So

Rheinheimer 2

go ahead, power down your computer, sit back with a warm drink, and let us enter into a space of literary

dialogue that sweeps across years and includes the voices of many.

* * * * *

There is an important theory of the power of the gaze. The knights in Romance always need to

have characters in the story watching them perform their daring deeds. Similarly, an oral enactment or a

movie needs a physical audience to watch the characters perform their actions. In video games, the

audience and the main character are one and the same. The power that causes the characters to act and

that confirms that the characters’ actions have occurred belongs to the player. The identity of the

individual hero is no longer juxtaposed to the identity of the audience, nor is the audience contrasted to

the characters.

* * * * *

This is how video games have taken ideas from the literary world and recycled them into

something new. The story is not being told or shown anymore. It is occurring

right

now.

Right at the very moment the player plays.

But if a video game can be played by anyone, then it’s a problem that the global market is still

largely targeting the white male Western audience. Link and Zelda are always white (I can only think of a

couple characters who are not white, and the main one is Ganondorf, who is typically a bit darker skinned

than Link or Zelda). The hero is male. Women still do not have full agency. By studying Romance

narrative, we clearly see that narrative in video games has some of the same problems that were inherent

during the age of Romance—the age of the Crusades. The scary thing about this (besides showing that we

haven’t come as far as we may think)? If the player and the character are the same, the player is put in the

gaze and shoes of white-dominated, male Western perspective. Of course, books and movies do this too.

What makes the video game different is that it’s more active. The gamer is unconsciously being taught

rules of a global world dominated by the Western white male. We are being taught to tie our individual

Rheinheimer 3

identity and personal desires to our public duty to a public community. We are being conditioned to

actively uphold the society we inhabit. The fact that this game is from an Eastern country makes that even

more worrisome as it shows just how deeply embedded into the international culture this mindset is. If

these observations hold true, then has humanity really progressed in any meaningful way? We may be

making technical advances, but are we making any headway in issues of morality, gender, and race?

Julianne

Julianne Ayers: Astrophil and Stella

Julianne Ayers is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in Language, Literature and Writing and minoring in Communications. In her free time she works with the Girl Scouts and a Catholic youth choir.

Entry 1
Poetry in response to Astrophil and Stella
The following poems are Stella in response to Astrophil’s affections (which I have created).
Sonnets 37, 66, 69 and 91
“Stella’s response to Astrophil” – Julianne Ayers
Your mouth doth water,
Your breast doth swell,
Keep your place and you will be well.
I am not a nymph,
I am not a poor,
I belong to Lord Rich forever more.
You meet great misfortune;
Since I am not yours,
I belong to Lord Rich forever more.

I looked at him
He looked at me
Then suddenly
Something came over me.
I don’t know what happened
I turned and blushed
These feelings came in
With such a great rush.
Oh, Astrophil you’ve loved me
For so long
I finally realized
I’ve been hanging on.
I married Lord Rich
My once true love at heart
But for this affection
I cannot part
I feel something for you
Not sure what,
But I will not depart from my marriage
My true love at heart.

I finally declared it
My love is pure
But there is one condition
That will always be sure

I told him once, I told him twice!
Our love must stay under platonic light

He does not seem to understand
I shall take him by the hand
I feel his love maybe much too strong
That this could turn out very wrong

I told him once, I told him twice!
Our love must stay under platonic light

He says these things I should not hear
So inappropriate and clear
His sexual desire for me has not changed
I have to leave while I am still sane

I told him once, I told him twice!
Our love must stay under platonic light

I understand you love me so,
But these strange feelings have to go
You watch these women go to and fro
They remind you of me, oh no!
These thoughts in your head make no sense to me
You are over analyzing everything you see.
Red lips, rose cheeks everywhere you see me
Not good, no way you just need to stay way.
We were not together all that long,
There’s no reason for me to be the light of your life.
Not the sun to brighten the darkness
Or a candle to light the way.
You may love me, but you are not in love with me
No matter the day, it’s over anyway.

Entry 2

The Twists and Turns and Double-Backs: Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods. – Julianne Ayers

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson is not linear, but follows a line of thought, and these lines of thought only can run straight when we force them to. It is first and foremost a work of fiction that challenges us imaginatively, and in turn we use the challenges in our lives. What is perplexing is that Winterson writes The Stone Gods as a time or place of possibility but these possibilities are closely reflective of past, present or future effects on Earth.
It is mainly concerned with corporate control of government, the harshness of war, and the dehumanization that technology brings, among other themes. The novel is self-referential, where later characters in the story find and read earlier sections of the book itself, and where certain sets of characters’ story repeat, particularly those of a Robo-sapian named Spike and her reluctant human companion, Billie. This technique sets the book in the postmodernist genre, though it is mainly used to warn against history’s tendency to repeat itself, as well as humanity’s inability to learn from past mistakes, even when these mistakes repeat across history, planets, and their respective evolutionary timelines.
The Stone Gods is written in four parts; The first part, “Planet Blue,” is set in a futuristic past, where humanity’s problematic destruction of its own home-world, Orbus, seems to be fixed when they come across another viable world in outer space. Orbus, a world very like earth, and like earth running out of resources and suffering from the severe effects of climate change. This is a world where everyone is bio-enhanced and bored to death. It is a world that has run out of possibilities. Then, a new planet is discovered, perfect for human life. This planet, “Planet Blue,” has only one drawback—the dinosaurs. A mission leaves Orbus to get rid of the dinosaurs.
Part two, “Easter Island,” is set in the 18th century, a time when Easter Island’s inhabitants destroyed many of the mo’ai statues (and the last tree) on their island. The toppling of these statues may suggest the author’s opinion of current overbearing corporate and government entities. Part three or “Post-3War” is set in “Tech City” after World War Three and Part four or “Wreck City” is set in the same time-space, though moving to a derelict trash city where those abandoned by the corporate-controlled society struggle to live.
Within the entirety of this novel there are multiple theorists and critical approaches that can help define the material that Winterson has revealed to us. The theory of post-colonization and Louis Althusser outlooks on Marxism and Humanism can be found embedded into all four parts of “The Stone Gods.” As a critical-theory of literature, post-colonialism deals with the literatures produced by the peoples who once were colonies of the European imperial powers. Post-colonial literary criticism comprehends the literatures written by the colonizer and the colonized. In Dutch literature, the Indies Literature includes the colonial and post-colonial genres, which examine and analyze the formation of a post-colonial identity.
“Easter Island” is reflective of the time when the inhabitants destroyed the statues and trees of the native peoples on the island. Winterson writes on page 110, “The Ariki Mau had ordered its protection as a sacred tree, and the Bird Man had ordered its felling. . . . that an island abundant in all things necessary has been levelled to this wasteland through the making of a Stone God and then by his destruction.” This is a clear definition of occupational colonization in which the non-natives forage and strip apart the land and then go back to their parent country, even without formally forming and establishing a colony.
This theory of post-colonialism also rears its head in Part one, “Planet Blue,” when Spike explains about the destruction of dinosaurs and the relocation of the citizens of Orbus. “The rich are leaving. The rest of the human race will have to cope with what’s left of Orbus. . . . MORE is building a space-liner called the Mayflower. It will take those who can afford it to the Planet Blue, where a high-tech. low impact village will be built for them. . . . it will take several generations for a counter-movement to begin, and the feeling is that the planet is so big they can just be allowed to leave and form alternative communities elsewhere” (Winterson 60-61). They are colonizing the new planet just as they have done on Orbus, and may or may not have learned from the destruction on Orbus on how to preserve their new planet.
Louis Althusser outlooks on Marxism and Humanism can be seen or interpreted within Winterson’s writing. His essay “Marxism and Humanism” is a strong statement of anti-humanism, condemning ideas like “human potential” and “species-being,” which are often put forth by Marxists, as outgrowths of a bourgeois ideology of “humanity.” “Robo sapiens is evolving. The first artificial creature that looks and acts human, and that evolves like a human-within limits of course” (Winterson 14) and “The future of women is uncertain. We don’t breed in the womb any more, and if we aren’t wanted for sex. . . . But there will always be men” (Winterson 22).
The above quotes are completely anti-humanist statements. The creation of Robo sapiens is dehumanizing and is removing the feelings that are shared between humans. Since they don’t have hearts, they cannot experience love or display feelings that need to be shared and seen between one another. The removal of carrying a child in the womb is anti-humanistic toward women. It is demoralizing because for centuries, that is what women have been praised for and thought to be only good for: reproduction.
This work of fiction is truly imaginative and challenges our imagination. This placement of multiple possibilities is a reflection of the changes that our real Earth and real lives have or will face if we do not to learn from past mistakes. The genetic enhancements are advancements on our modern day plastic surgery. Manfred is fixed as late forties and Pink wants be fixed at the age of twelve to please her husband. This enhancement is on a larger scale than lipo-suction or breast augmentation but with technological advances, this could be our future. The destruction of the dinosaurs on Planet Blue, sounds a lot like the extinction of dinosaur on Earth over 65 million years ago and the after math of World War III kind of plays into Will Smith’s movie “I, Robot” with the creation of the first Robo sapiens.
Thinking long and hard, this ideology or fictional world doesn’t seem so far-fetched. If you think to the conversations between Spike, Billie, Pink and Handsome on the flight to Planet Blue, they discuss the “White Planet” and how Handsome says that “The white planet was a world like ours” (Winterson 56). Could this be true for Earth as well? We destroyed our planet, millions of years ago, and moved or relocated to Earth to start anew and are repeating history again and again. Think about it!

Tiffany

Tiffany Browne: Analyzing Biracial Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Tiffany Browne

This excerpt is the beginning of my Honors Senior Thesis focused on representations of biracial protagonists in Young Adult fiction. The first section, which has been published in the McNair Scholars Research Journal Vol. 8, deals specifically with biracial female protagonists. My thesis is being completed in my minor, Children’s Literature (Housed in the English department) but is also highly influenced by the work I have completed in my Literature major. To download the full version of this text please visit http://commons.emich.edu/mcnair/vol8/iss1/5/.

You Can’t Just Pick One Race and You Shouldn’t Have To:
Analyzing Biracial Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

INTRODUCTION
Reaching adolescence brings about many opportunities for self-discovery, and one of the most crucial and often overlooked aspects of this self-discovery revolves around racial identity. The struggle for racial identity faced by biracial females in the United States, the demographic focus of this paper, sets them apart from their uni-racial counterparts. One of the first places that adolescents are introduced to reflections on the struggles of identity crises is in literature. The presence of biracial characters in young adult fiction can provide a mirror into the lives of characters going through the same issues as those reading the texts, allowing the authors of these texts to potentially influence the perceptions of their biracial readers through their depictions of characters with similar attributes. William S.C. Poston writes that, “The notion of racial identity is considered important in terms of shaping attitudes towards oneself, towards others in one’s racial group, and towards other racial groups, including majority and minority groups” (referenced by Nuttgens 356). Thus, the depictions of biracial identity that are discussed in young adult fiction can be essential to the development of readers’ own identities. By analyzing the female biracial protagonists of different young adult fictional texts, primarily Sarah Jamila Stevenson’s The Latte Rebellion (2011), Joan Steinau Lester’s Black, White, Other (2011), and Sandra Forrester’s Dust from Old Bones (1999), patterns of representation emerge. The patterns found in these novels serve to demonstrate that the aspects that influence the way a character feels about her biraciality range from her family’s attitudes toward her biracial make-up, interactions with other characters in school environments, to responses toward the character’s identity from members of her community. Due to the limited amount of research conducted on such an essential topic in the field of Children’s Literature, much of this paper will draw from the disciplines of Education and Psychology, in addition to multicultural Children’s Literature.
The Issue of Race in Children’s Literature
There is very limited recent research specifically dealing with biraciality in children’s literature. Much of the discussion in the field surrounds multicultural literature and the inclusion of texts that are not “all White.” In a groundbreaking article published in 1965 by The Saturday Review, Nancy Larrick brought the issue of “The All White World of Children’s Books” to the general public. This article specifically dealt with the omission of African American characters from texts; at that time only 6.7 percent of the 5,206 books published for children in 1964 had at least one depiction of a non-White character (Larrick 2). This statistic does not include any characters with a biracial background, as research regarding this demographic was nonexistent at the time of this study. As of February 24, 2015, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison did a random sampling of 3,500 texts out of the estimated 5,000 Children’s Literature books that were published in the year 2014. They discovered that their sample revealed a meager 396 texts written about non-White characters, with no specific distinction given to texts written by or about biracial individuals (Horning 2015). This number is an increase from the texts published about non-White characters in the year 2013, with that number hovering at 253 books, but it still reveals the limited progress that has been made in publishing racially diverse books for a young audience.
The statistics on the number of racially diverse texts, and the exclusion of biracial representation as a category within these statistics, become even more alarming when the 2010 U.S. Census reported a record number of individuals declaring more than one racial/ethnic background, with the number of citizens reporting belonging to two or more races as over nine million (U.S. Census Bureau 2011). The extremely small number of texts dealing with biracial characters is deeply disproportionate to the number of people self-defining as biracial. With that being the case, it is noteworthy that the University of Wisconsin—Madison does not include a “biracial” identity category in their study of children’s texts, alongside other established categories for minority racial identities.
When texts are created about this group of people, they often include inaccurate or problematic depictions of biracial characters. It is essential for readers to feel there is an aspect of connection with the texts they engage with. Finding a relationship between oneself and a character has self-affirming attributes, which often lead to young readers seeking out texts with characters similar to themselves (Sims-Bishop 1990). Problems arise for biracial individuals seeking characters similar to themselves, because there is a very limited number of texts with authentic depictions of biracial characters. Motoko Rich writes in his 2014 New York Times article “For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing”, that without a mirror reflecting characteristics of the readers in a text, the readers have less of an opportunity to “build [reading] stamina and deepen their understanding of story elements” (Rich). Biracial children have to work harder to find some aspect of character identification than many other readers. Rudine Sims Bishop states in her article entitled “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom” that “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part” (Sims-Bishop 1990). The incorporation of diverse characters in texts, including biracial characters, helps readers from diverse backgrounds not only to appreciate the texts themselves, but to feel better about themselves. The notion of the only type of biraciality that exists in the United States is that of Black and White often persists in society today. Therefore, books representing all types of biraciality are needed, though it is not always necessary to have a racial match for the reader to identity with a biracial character. Featuring biracial characters representing any two races would be a positive development.

WORKS CITED
Cipriani-Price, Mary, Ben K. Lim, and Donna J. Alberici. “Biracial.” Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology (2010): 155-61. Springer US.
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. The Souls of Black Folk. Oxford University Press, 2007.
Forrester, Sandra. Dust from Old Bones. New York: Morrow Junior, 1999. Print.
Hadaway, Nancy L, Terrell A Young, and Barbara A Ward. “A Critical Analysis of Language Identity Issues in Young Adult Literature.” ALAN Review Summer 2012 (2012): 36-47.
Hughes-Hassell, Sandra, Heather A Barkley, and Elizabeth Koehler. “Promoting Equity in Children’s Literacy Instruction: Using a Critical Race Theory Framework to Examine Transitional Books.” School Library Media Research 12 (2009): 2-20.
Hughes-Hassell, Sandra. “Multicultural Young Adult Literature as a Form of Counter-
Storytelling.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 83.3 (2013): 212-28.
Ivory, Lourdes India. “Bicultural Efficacy.” Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology 2010 (2010): 141-43.
Kleinman-Fleischer, Beth. “Biracial/Multiracial Identity Development.” Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology 2010 (2010): 161-64.
Larrick, Nancy. “The All-White World of Children’s Books.” Saturday Review 11.11 (1965): 63-65.
Lester, Joan Steinau. Black, White, Other. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
Marks, Jonathan. “Black, white, other.” Natural History 103.12 (1994): 32-35.
Miller, Katherine. Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes. Stamford, CT.: Cengage Learning, 2014.
Nuttgens, Simon “Biracial Identity Theory and Research Juxtaposed with Narrative Accounts of a Biracial Individual.” Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal 27.5 (2010): 355-364.
Pescosolido, Bernice A., Elizabeth Grauerholz, and Melissa A. Milkie. “Culture and Conflict: The Portrayal of Blacks in U.S. Children’s Picture Books through the Mid- and LateTwentieth Century.” American Sociological Review (1997): 443-464.
Rich, Motoko. “For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing.” New York Times 5 Dec. 2012: A1.
Sims Bishop, Rudine “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, 6.3. (Summer 1990).
Stevenson, Sarah Jamila. The Latte Rebellion. Woodbury, Minn.: Flux, 2011. Print.
Williams, Rhina Maria Fernandes. “When Gray Matters More Than Black or White The Schooling Experiences of Black–White Biracial Students.” Education and Urban Society 45.2 (2013): 175-207.

Madelynne Hostetler

Madelynne Hostetler

This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in Literature 490 comparing the characters Mustafa Sa’eed in Tayeb Salih’s novel Season of Migration to the North and Othello in Shakespeare’s Othello.

Later on in the novel, Mustafa vehemently declares “I am no Othello. Othello was a lie” (96). After all his efforts to be accepted by British society, Mustafa is made to return to the Sudan as punishment for the murder of his wife, Jean Morris. To English eyes, this murder was simply the manifestation of the presumed barbaric nature that was always deep inside Mustafa because of his ancestry. While Othello was widely accepted as a gentleman by the Venetian state, Mustafa was seen as the most successful product of the “civilizing mission in Africa” (93). After the trial, the lawyer, Maxwell Foster-Keen, says to Mustafa “After all the efforts we’ve made to educate you, it’s as if you’d come out of the jungle for the first time” (93). This indicates that while he believed he had been integrated fully into English society, he was no more than a risky experiment. Once he begins to comprehend this, he denies all parallels with the Shakespearean Moor.
“I am no Othello” could carry a number of different meanings. By saying this, Mustafa could be pointing out that Othello fought on the side of the colonizer, while he now chooses to fight against them, or at least now denies affiliation with the English. By severing social ties here, Mustafa is saying that he will no longer defend the British. He acts on this idea when he is in the village with the narrator. Mustafa does not tell of the extensive time he spent in England or of the education he received there. He is showing full detachment from English society by not speaking the language of the colonizer and keeping his past a secret from all but the narrator. The phrase could also be a declaration of otherness. By stating that he is no Othello, Mustafa is claiming his native heritage. Othello was written by a man from the West, and while the character Othello is of Moorish descent, he is fully accepted and integrated into Venetian society. By saying he is not Othello, Mustafa could be saying that it is not possible for the English to understand him. While Othello was black, he was not treated as a “civilizing mission” the way Mustafa was.
Based on Mustafa’s complicated yet final rejection of Western society, Salih might read Othello as a man who either did not understand the “experiment” going on around him, or a man who simply does not fully understand what it is like to be distinctly other because he was not treated consistently as other. Othello’s troubles were not motivated by race, but by an unexplained jealousy in his confidant, Iago. In Season of Migration to the North, much of Mustafa’s identity in England seems to be informed by his race. He is a black man, an other, in a white society that sees him as a natural barbarian, another state to be conquered. It is this complicated intersection between owning one’s otherness and incorporating oneself into society that causes confusion in Mustafa’s sense of identity. This is the reason he keeps the office the narrator discovers (112). While he lives out a life in Africa, his time in England shaped a part of his identity that had to be cut off, condensed into this single room. While it could be locked up, it could never be tossed away because ultimately both cultures are a part of who he is. The same is true for the narrator’s search for identity. By entering this musty room and seeing that Mustafa did not have all the answers like the narrator suspected, he accepts the possibility of allowing both cultures to inform his identity, and because of this realization he is then able to accept the village as a part of him and finally feel a sense of belonging.

Work Cited:
Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. Heinemann International, 1966. Print