Rebellious and Self-Destructive Daughters in Naguib Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley and Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying
Rebellion is a vice condemnable both in the holy books and in most societies among them the African society. As a form of disobedience, rebellion is a negative trait that is loathed by even God himself and it is for this reason that he condemned and rejected King Saul, with this charge: “Obedience is better than sacrifice and to hearken the fat of rams….” (The Holy Bible, KJV, 1 Samuel 15: 22-23). Moreover, in the Ten Commandments, God institutes obedience to parents as a condition for longevity, success and fulfilment (Exodus 20: 12). This is so because rebellion is willful disobedience and deliberate departure from an instruction that could emanate from one’s: superior, parents, guide, mentor, counselor and so on. On the other hand, conformity to one’s: parental, family, community and cultural ways remains a virtue about which parents and elders boast in African society. Conversely, rebellion against these standards attracts tragic consequences because the gods, parents, elders and the community are usually embarrassed, upset and humiliated by the actions of the rebel. In some cases, such humiliated entities lay a curse on the rebel for wounding their ego and disappointing their expectations. The potency of such curses stems from the fact that the rebel shares a spiritual affinity with these entities. This submission is graphically represented in the actions and fates of Hamida and Noria, the two female protagonists of Egypt’s Naguib Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley (1975, rpt 1996) and South Africa’s Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying (1995) Adopting the Biblical principles that perceive rebellion and parental disobedience to be self-destructive missiles (1 Sam 15: 1-35, Exodus 20: 12), this essay argues that the tragic end of the heroines of these two novels is caused by their rebellion against their parents.
Key Words: Rebellion, self-destruction, female protagonists, curse, Midaq Alley, Naguib Mahfouz, Ways of Dying, Zakes Mda.