Lesson of the Story

Categories: Novel

The protagonist dreamt of heaven wherein he felt no pain and was in a heavenly plateau. When he woke up, he was informed that Zaabalawi has left and yet, visited him for awhile – evidence of which is his wet hair. This reinforced the “faith” of the primary character in looking for Zaabalawi. He now truly believed that he is not just a pigment of his imagination and is in fact, the one who will truly heal his malady.

The novel ended with the character affirming his continued quest for Zaabalawi, this time with more faith and motivation.

What can be the main issues that the author, Mahfouz, wanted to relay to the readers when he wrote “Zaabalawi”? What is the lesson of the story? The story, “Zaabalawi” can be seen as the narrator’s (may also be the author’s or the readers’) pursuit for piety, faith, mystical experience perhaps, God or Allah.

During his journey, he felt numerous persons who have, one way or another, been acquainted with Zaabalawi (God) and have been exposed to the kinds of people that live in this world – those that are ruled by money, careers and good financial status in life, and those who still believe in God and let their lives be ruled by Him, making Him their source of inspiration and motivation in the things that they do.

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One person was also presented in the story as a man who is in a state of “spiritual drunkenness”. In Islamic symbolism (especially that of Sufism), drunkenness meant spiritual ecstasy.

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It was presented in the story that to be able to meet Zaabalawi or experience his heavenly presence, a state of drunkenness wherein the person will strip away all his bodily cares and worries away from his soul and bare himself to God will have to be undertaken. The story “Zaabalawi” have rich cultural concepts and its social and cultural complexity open the readers’ eyes to a world that is different to some (Christians) and yet so similar in the way it portrayed each and everyone’s journey towards God or Allah.

The journey is quite long and tedious, some nights it will give a person misgiving and sufferings, some days it will give light and affirmation to his/her quest. But the pervading note in the story is hope. A reader feels overwhelming hope in the way the book was written by the author, Mahfouz. For in the end, the protagonist shouted several times that he will continue to seek for Zaabalawi now that he knew he is real.

The main issues tackled in this book are the (1) search for spiritual fulfillment in a world of failed traditions and a materialistic age ruled by greed; quest for truth in a changing world of faded superstitions and advancing science and technology; (2) concern with social and cultural changes associated with development and urbanization (the heavily populated city of Cairo, Egypt) and modernization (business activity and Western influences); (3) attack on hardened religious institutions and that only certain figures such as artists (the composer and calligrapher) and the drunk seemed to be the only ones in contact with the truth symbolized by Zaabalawi.

Allegory which hinted at the possibility of human significance of religion and its supposedly transcendental symbols – it is an attempt to redefine God in human, social and earthly terms; and (5) distance from the truth and genuine fulfillment by those who seek only personal gain and profit; while people who are able to live harmoniously within himself and with others experience happiness. The book has strong religious and social undertones. The characters that the protagonist visited were instrumental in portraying the effects that reason, technology and big business have on an individual. The book also highlighted the close relationship of art, human sympathy and spiritual value that a person with faith experiences.

The book also depicted a strong national Egyptian identity as much as it presented the individual experience in a tragic society. By highlighting the artists, the book also emphasized the social function of art to educate and question what is ethically and morally right, what path we all should take to reach heavenly joy – either in social or religious aspect. The book also tackled the social and spiritual dilemma of man – to what extent should a man accept and do worldly things before he will sacrifice his spiritual faith? The characters that were presented in the book also presented and symbolized the different human beings that we see and meet in our own journeys. Some will encourage and draw you nearer to your spiritual quest, and some will hinder you.

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Lesson of the Story. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/lesson-of-the-story-essay

Lesson of the Story

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