The Psychological Plight of the Colonized in Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North

Fatima Muhaidat, Lana Waleed


This study investigates postcolonial suffering of people in Sudan as portrayed by Tayeb Salih in his novella Season of Migration to the North (1966). Relationship with the colonizer renders the colonized psychologically, emotionally and mentally disturbed. In response to their pain, victims resort to different mechanisms like repression, isolation, and violence. Colonial abuses affect men and women. After spending long years pursuing higher education in Britain, two major male characters in Salih’s novella find themselves stunned to realize they were no more than tools used by the colonizer. With a mind spurning out of control, one of them finds himself incapable of digesting his heart-wrenching fiasco. As a result, he puts an end to his life. The other one seems also to have contemplated committing suicide, but he changes his mind at the last moment. As for women, getting accustomed to losses and violence, a helpless mother appears devoid of emotion at her only son’s departure and leaving her alone with a possibility of not seeing him again. Another one, to the shock of everyone, a widow forced to marry an old man, kills her husband and commits suicide at her wedding night. Salih uses certain literary techniques to convey the intolerable wretchedness of the colonized and the failure of communication between colonizer and colonized. These techniques include an unnamed narrator, stream of consciousness, personification of the natural landscape as well as intertwining fictional and historical elements. Society as a whole seems plagued by a sense of loss, aimlessness, and worthlessness. In brief, Salih’s portrayal of the conditions of the colonized reflects a deep awareness of their psychological plight.



World literature; Psychological plight; Season of Migration to the North; Tayeb Salih; Postcolonial literature; Arabic literature

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