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Naguib Mahfouz - Norwegian Rat a Socio-Political Review.

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Naguib Mahfouz – Norwegian Rat a Socio-Political Review.
The short story written by Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz defines many social theories presented by modern day mass societies. This short story is a part of an eighteen part short story series presented by the author and titled “The Time and The Place” where governmental secrecy is addressed as well as political methods in order to seclude society from oppressive practices. The topics of gender, socialization, power relations and Arab culture are addressed within this narrative.
The story is a narrative revolving around a residential Egyptian building, the ultimate social microcosm during the 1970’s. The protagonist is a resident and the story is told from a first person perspective. It explains how a sudden attack of Norwegian rats is imminent upon this Egyptian building. This attack was conveyed by Mr. A.M, the older individual within the building and apparent leader of the group. The city’s governor orders are communicated via Mr. A.M to the rest of the building. Based upon word of mouth, a fear of this infestation suddenly spreads between the residents of this building. Even though not a single rat was seen many facts about these rats were given by Mr. A.M as well as other residents. The residents are ordered to take on a number of precautionary measures in order to counter the attack of these rats. Encouraged by the government to feel safety around them and have faith in their orders, money was spent over a long period of time only on preemptive fears. Tempers were raised by residents and their families despondent by the impending attack however, after a period of time; the frustration grew due to the lack of attack by the rats. Eventually after a number of weeks and further precautions, residents were ordered to open their homes to governmental inspectors, claiming to inspect the safety of homes. An inspector walked into the home of the narrator only to appear useless and ask for food, through which the narrator concludes that the actual rats are the ones claiming to be conscious of the safety, the government.
False political positivism interacting with a culture of fear created by the government is the main superficial moral behind this story. Where political positivism is applied in order to unite societies behind a main cause, ‘Norwegian Rat’ shows how political positivism may be falsely applied in order to mislead society from substantial political issues. This was a tactic applied by the Hosni Mubarak regime where a football match between Egypt and Algeria was twisted into a political cause and society was encouraged to fall behind this cause. However other underlying morals exist within ‘Norwegian Rat’ such as how Arab culture views the gender role within society. Mahfouz displays women as having a minimal role secluded to the household while men are issued a man of the house appearance. Their appearance is formally within the kitchen cooking or usually associated within the household thus “The nervous tension increased and was translated into sharp daily quarrels between the man of the house and his wife and children.” (Mahfouz) The quite apparent socialization of the community at the time was also evident due to Mahfouz recounting the importance of being part of social community at the time, the residential building in this case. Social conditioning is also another distinction within society at the time. Mahfouz used this story as a political parable to explain how social conditioning was extensively employed in order to control an oppressed society. Mahfouz also presented many aspects of Arab culture within Norwegian Rat. Although being minuscule aspects they hold great meaning, such as the invitation of the government inspector to have lunch. This is quite a distinctive part of Arab culture where lunch is served to a complete stranger based on family structure and traditions. The family structure in Mahfouz’s short story is a typical Egyptian structure with a ‘man of the house’, a wife and children.
Norwegian Rat tackles many political themes present at the time it was written, however, like many of Mahfouz’s novels; one may deduce cultural and historic ideas about society and family structures at the time. A man having a leading role within the typical family structure was the overcoming notion within this story. The patriarchal figure of the government which was typical during the 1970’s also shows how the government aimed at creating a totalitarian interference within a typical Arab family with the claim of being its guardian.
This book produces many political and sociological themes through which different arguments may be created. One, however, believes that the point of the short story, similar to a lot of Mahfouz’s novels was merely a parable. Meaning that many distant threats were applied by the government at the time in order to scare society and diminish their independent roles. Also to create a general feel of a patriarchal government cautious of its children, the population, when in reality it is a political method by which a corrupt government forces the population to become misapprehended by the lower social standards and fixated by the imminent threat. Works cited
Mahfouz, Naguib. The Time And The Place. Transworld Digital, 2011.

Al-Najjar, Abeer. "CONTESTING PATRIOTISM AND GLOBAL JOURNALISM ETHICS IN
ARAB JOURNALISM." Journalism Studies 12.6 (2011): 747-756.

Aranke, Sampada, and Karl Zoller. "Crisis management as representational strategy: The arrangement of “African” subjectivities and the 2010 world cup." Ecquid Novi: African
Journalism Studies 31.2 (2010): 131-148.

Saiti, Ramzi, and Ramzi M. Salti. "Paradise, Heaven, and Other Oppressive Spaces: A
Critical Examination of the Life and Works of Nawal El-Saadawi." Journal of Arabic Literature (1994): 152-174.…...

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