Zaabalawi Is A Story English Literature Essay

Hope is defined as the sensation of expecting or a burly desiring a certain thing to happen. It is a belief that a positive thing would happen out of the harsh and difficult circumstances during someone’s lifetime. Moreover, hope is also the continuous positive belief that people hold into expecting changes, and turn up for the best. Hope is a concept that is common in literature textures and adopted by many writers. In most of the texts that I have read during this semester, protagonists face critical periods during the stories and hope is their companion until the end. In this paper, I will try to compare the use of hope in two great texts written by two great authors from different educational and cultural backgrounds. The first story called “Zaabalawi” by the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz, and the second one “The Guest” by Albert Camus.

Zaabalawi is a story about a sick man who suffers from a disease that is incurable. The sickness caused the man terrible pain that he couldn’t support and which pushed him to travel through the old Cairo searching for a saint known as Zaabalawi. This later was the only person who could cure him and release him from his physical sufferance. During his search he encounters people from different social categories such as a lowyer Qamar, the district sheikh, a bookseller, a calligrapher and a musician. The sick man asked each one of them for help and directions, but everyone he asked sent him to different direction. (Gordon, p, 25)

The protagonist experienced a lot of pain and suffering due to the different events that he faced. The confusion that he had developed about the possibility of being healed made him doubting about his existence. Still, the moment when he got drunk he slept and dreamed about a magnificent garden where he found peace and contentment in his heart. Once he woke up, he has been told that Zaabalawi was with him but he left. Even thought the sick man was disappointed about missing Zaabalawi, his was encouraged by his dream and energized to continue following his objective which was finding the saint Zaabalawi. (Gordon, p, 25)

The guest is a short story by Albert Camus. The story starts with two men climbing a rocky hill while one of them named Balducci on a horse and the other who was an Arab prisoner walking behind him with his hands tied on rope. At the top of the mountain Daru, a

schoolteacher, was standing and watching the two men walking towards his direction. Daru lived and worked in the school at the same time. Due to the bad weather conditions, the school also served to a depot for distribution of relief food, which was also Daru’s responsibility. (Yehoshua,p, 41)

On his arrival, Balducci who was a elder officer and friend of Daru told this later the instructions of the government to take the prisoner to the command center in Tinguit. This was considered as a responsibility or duty towards the government. The prisoner is accused of assassinating his cousin by splitting his throat in a fight for grains. Daru refused to obey these orders. To his Balducci obliged Daru to sign papers that puts the prisoner at the responsibility of Daru.

Daru was very gentile and hospitable with the prisoner by offering him food and a bed. The next morning before leaving for school the morning, Daru gave the prisoner some money and gave him the choice to go to Tinguit or the south to hide with nomads. He gave him the option to decide which direction he would like to choose. The arab chose to turn himself to the police. But later on, Daru discovered a message written on the board threatening him. (Yehoshua, p, 41)

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In both texts, the circumstances and conditions surrounding events in the story portray the feeling of hope in different occasions. The protagonist in the two texts plan and hope to fulfill their plans despite the boundaries and difficulties that they faced. In the Guest, Daru was honest with Balducci by telling him his opposition to the government’s instructions. still, Balducci left the prisoner with him hoping that he would change his mind and accept the instructions given to him. In Zabalawi, it is obvious that the people that the sick man asked for directions were not involved or caring neither about him nor about Zabalawi. Let take for example the lawyer Qamar, he was a wealthy man enjoying his life and having good time in his funncy office. From the description of the author it was clear that the lawyer was one of those high social class who does not believe in healers, piety or God. Even though, the sick man was not discouraged about what the lawyer told him and continue his search for Zabalawi anyway. (Gordiner p, 44)

In both cases, the characters are hopeful that the decision that they had made will ease their situation and make their life better. The sick man strongly believes that finding Zabalawi will make him better. He is confident that looking for the healer and finding him will cure his disease which means no more pain. And after many hardship and critical events that he experienced he stayed holing on his hope which is finding the healer and being cured. (Gordiner p, 44)

Daru in the Guest is also facing the same challenges in his school. The working conditions were not satisfactory; the weather was very cold which blocked students coming to school which created a sort of isolation for him. The condition of living in that region was very difficult and harsh. With these negative environmental conditions Daru stayed hopeful for better future. He stayed believing in the return of his students to school and continues their learning. He also strongly hoped that either his brother or father would come to school and pick relief food for the rest of the family. (Camus, p, 16)

The constraints situations surrounding the hope to achieve objective or aims are evident in both stories. Daru hoped to develop his teaching career which was one of his dreams. However, his country was affected by the French colonial rule on Algeria. While searching for a job he asked about teaching in a school in an area at foothill between the desert and the plateau where would have a free will to chose whether to support the French or the Arabs. However, he was assigned to the plateau as a school head. The plateau was under the French control who obliged him to stick to their rules and obey their regulations. Daru wanted to support and assist the natives of Algeria but given the place where he was located and the responsibilities that he was assigned by the French protectorate shaped and influenced his hope. (Camus, p, 16)

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The same thing happened in Zabalawi where the protagonist faced several difficulties, which blocked him from achieving his hope of being cured. The help and directions given by the people that he contacted were very confusing and contradicted which made him confused and lost. He started to question himself about whether the healer existed or not. The protagonist wanted to know if what he is experiencing is a normal, and similar to all of those who were locking for the healer, he started to ask people as much as he could. In fact, the sick man was suffering and tired of this long search process, but his hope was strong enough and considered these difficulties as part of the curing process.

The hope of the unknown characterizes the two characters in both stories. Daru faced a state of nature where he had to decide whether to obey the officer’s instruction or take his own decision. Daru chose to show the Arab the road and supplied him with enough food and money and giving him the choice of going to the police or leave and hide in mountains. Then he left him at rhe crossroad and hope will make the right decision. (Camus, p, 16)

In Zaabalawi, the hope of the unknown was also present in the story. The sick man dreamed about Zabalawi and was almost sure of his existence. He had been told that Zabalawi visited him during his sleep. He was very mad since he couldn’t see him, and he decided to continue his search and must get him in any condition. In both stories, protagonists experienced the hope and believe of the unknown. On one hand, Daru hoped that the decision he made would be wise and will favor everyone. On the other hand, the sick man hopes that he would find Zaabalawi even if he is not sure about his existence. (Gordon, p, 25)

Still, when we talk about theme of hope we find differences in the both texts. Daru hope to change his life condition and have a better life which seem unrealistic and difficult to achieve.

The teacher faced a very difficult situation that he had to challenge such as the difficult weather, poverty and loneliness. These were some external factors that he could not change and were beyond his will. These external factors affected the hope of the protagonist and blocked him of achieving his desire. He was hoping to become a better person who believed that power is for people. He supported Arabs by believing that they have to take their own decisions and that resulted in being threatened. This situation shows that even if people hope for something better external factors can change or make achieving that hope very difficult. (Yehoshua, p 41)

On the contrary, the sick man’s motivation was supported by the environment where he lived. His hope to find Zabalawi was increasing constantly after the different conversations that he had with people he met. The dream that he had when he was sleeping confirmed the existence of Zabalawi and pushed him to follow his exploration. In addition, this hope is then clear especially after meeting both the calligrapher and the musician who confirmed the existence of Zaabalawi since they met him before. (Gordiner p, 44)

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The theme of hope is introduced in other stories such as The Metamorphosis, Candide and also The Cut. In all these stories, protagonists share a common desire which is the hope of changing their life. In the Metamorphosis, Gregor woke up but couldn’t leave his bad. Along the story his hope was only to leave his bad and go to work. He kept trying and trying but couldn’t do it, then he realized that he became a bug. Moreover, Candide is the story where hope is one of the most important themes that had been discussed in the story, Candide during the hole story faced different difficulties and odds. Still, he was always hoping that his life would change for the best. In other words, hope is an essential part of characters’ existence that goes hand in hand with the development of their personalities.

Hope as a theme is obvious and clear in both stories. The protagonists hope to have a better life and achieve what they have being looking for. In fact, the external factors that surrounding the story represent a real boundary for achieving their will. in most stories hope is the planning or aim that most characters try to achieve. It is a motivating aspect that pushes them hold on their goals. The hope is fixed goal or objective that faces an unknown future which makes it very difficult. Additionally, it also shows the strong will of people to change their life from worst to better, or from better to even best. It is the key to overcome challenges and rise conviction from the soul. A person with strong hopes is a person with enthusiasm and desire to overcome all odds and barriers that can stop him making his life better. Hope is also a theme that exists in other fields or disciplines other than literature. In business, hope is also one of the most important components in any growing company. Business organizations put hope within both their mission and vision so that the company should follow. Based on that, hope strategies are made and policies are settled so that the objectives can be achieved. Without that business hope motivation within companies cannot be triggered and development cannot be achieved. In a word, Hope is a very deep and important theme that exists in our lives. Achieving that hope means difficulties and challenges that require people to be resistant, strong and motivated.


Camus, Albert. The guest. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education, 1990. Print.

Camus, Albert. “The Metamorphosis”. The Northan Anthology of World Literature. Volume2.EDS. John Biehorst, et al. 2nd Ed. New York: Nortan, 2009. ( 1018.25). Print.

Gordimer, Nadine. Writing and being. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995. Print.

Gordon, HÌ£ayim. Naguib Mahfouz’s Egypt: existential themes in his writings. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Print.

Naguib,Mahfouz. “Zaabalawi”. The Northan Anthology of World Literature. Volume2.EDS. John Biehorst, et al. 2nd Ed. New York: Nortan, 2009. ( 1018.25). Print.

Yehoshua, Abraham B., and Ora Cummings. The terrible power of a minor guilt: literary essays. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2000. Print.

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