Books and Movies Reviews

The Many Personalities of Midaq Alley

The setting of the novel "Midaq Alley," by Naguib Mahfouz, may seem like an ordinary and lifeless place atfirst, with its main street, "Sandiqiya Street," consisting of "a shop, a café, and a bakery, another shop…[and] two adjoining houses, each of three stories,"(p.1)but this alley is anything but dull.Midaq Alley is a "distinctive and personal [place with a] life of its own (p.1) and this unique personality created quite a different array of emotions amongst its characters in the book.Three of the characters in the novel, Hussain Kirsha, Abbas, and Hamida all have distinctly different views of the alley; Hussain Kirsha has a somewhat wavering feeling towards the alley that can be simplistically described as neutral.There is also Abbas, a tranquil and religiously devout Muslim who loves the alley and everything it represents, who, ironically, falls in love with Hamida, a young woman who exceedingly resents the alley.
Hussain Kirsha is unimpressed by the alley and wants to and is able to, atfirst, move on to a more luxurious life.After working in a bicycle store as a younger boy making "three piasters…his daily wages were now thirty piasters," (p.32) working in a British army camp.Hussain Kirsha has a bitter resentment towards those of the ally, finding himself "full of hostility for the alley and its inhabitants."(p.112)And even though after a fight with his parents, he leaves the alley, by the end of the book, he returns to the alley.While he may not be fully satisfied with his situation, i.e. living in the alley, it is something that he accepts.
While Hussain Kirsha made futile attempts to leave the alley, Abbas, on the other hand, "if he were left to himself…would make no choice other than the alley.If he spent the rest of his life there, he would be quite happy.The truth was, he loved it."(p.36)Compared to what was going …

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