The Norwegian
Rat
Naguid Mahfouz
Naguib Mahfouz
(1911-2006)
•Grew up in Egypt
•First Arab to win a
Nobel Peace Prize
•Grew up in a middle
class family, attended
the University of Cairo,
and became a writer
•Made short stories and
novels a more popular
genre in the Middle East,
where poetry is more
traditionally published
•Writing deals with
social and political
themes
Key Concepts:
• Hysteria
• Mood
• Magical Realism
• Ambiguity
Hysteria
1) Exaggerated or uncontrollable
emotion or excitement, especially
among a group of people.
2) A psychological disorder whose
symptoms include conversion of
mental stress into physical symptoms
such as volatile emotions, physical
illness, unrest, and/or
hallucinations
Salem Witch Trials
•
In June of 1692, a special
court sat in Salem, MA to
hear cases of witchcraft.
Thirteen women and five men
from all stations of life
went to the gallows
•
Historians believe such a
witch hunt was caused by
multiple influences:
sickness in the community,
resentment of economic
prosperity, strict religious
zeal, as well as intense
social magnification.
Mumbai “Sweet” Water
•
The 2006 Mumbai “sweet”
seawater incident was a
phenomenon during which
residents of Mumbai, India
claimed that the water at
Mahim Creek, one of the most
polluted creeks in India that
receives thousands of tones of
raw sewage and industrial
waste every day, had suddenly
turned “sweet”.
•
Within hours, the Pollution
Control Board had warned
people not to drink the water,
but despite this many people
had collected it in bottles,
even as plastic and rubbish
had drifted by on the current.
By 2pm the following day, the
devotees said that the water
was salty again.
June Bug Epidemic
•
In 1962 a mysterious disease
broke out in a dressmaking
department of a US textile
factory. The symptoms included
numbness, nausea, dizziness,
and vomiting. Word of a bug in
the factory that would bite
its victims and develop the
above symptoms quickly spread.
Soon sixty two employees
developed this mysterious
illness, some of whom were
hospitalized.
•
While the researchers believed
some workers were bitten by
the bug, anxiety was likely
the cause of the symptoms. No
evidence was ever found for a
bug which could cause the
above flu-like symptoms, nor
did all workers demonstrate
bites.
The Norwegian Rat
• While a work of fiction,
The Norwegian Rat
nonetheless depicts a
subtle type of hysteria
that people fall victim
to— spreading rumors
based up irrational fears
created for them by their
government.
• As you read, you will
work describing the mood
and plot sequence of the
text to try and decipher
what Mahfouz is saying
about hysteria.
Mood Exercise
Description
MOOD:
The atmosphere
Mood/Feeling/Sense
that pervades a literary
Emphasized
work with the intention of evoking a certain emotion or
Example:
The mood set is one of
feeling from the audience.
“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping care-free happiness and
• In
drama,
may
created
by sets and Words
music as
andwell
on
the back
screenedmood
porch in
cots,be
or trying
to excitement.
as words; in poetry and prose, mood may be created by a
sleep in the tree house; summer was everything phrases like “best,”
combination of such elements as SETTING, TONE, and THEME.
describing the season,
good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a
• The landscape;
moods evoked
the more “everything
popular shortgood”
stories
andof
parched
but most of by
all summer
Edgar
tend to be
horrific,
in gloomy,
a parched
was
Dill.”Allen Poe, for example, “colors
and desperate.
landscape” create a sense
of relaxed anticipation
and better times to come.
Mood Exercise
Description
Example:
FORTUNATELY we were not alone in this affliction. Mr. A.M.,
being the senior householder in the building, had invited us to
a meeting in his flat for an exchange of opinions. There were
not more than ten people present, including Mr. A.M., who, in
addition to being the oldest among us, held the most senior
position and was also the most well off. No one failed to show
up—and how could they, seeing that it had to do with the rats
and their likely invasion of our homes and their threat to our
safety? Mr. A.M. began in a voice of great gravity with “As you
all know ...” and then set forth what the papers had been
reiterating about the advance of the rats, their vast numbers,
and the terrible destruction that would be wrought by them.
Voices were raised around the room.
Mood/Feeling/ Word Choice
What are the characters
feeling?
What words lend to
establishing that
feeling?
What are other
adjectives you can use
to describe this mood?
Write them down in your
next sentence.
Claim:
Evidence:
Magical Realism:
A literary style that combines
incredible events with
realistic details and relates
them in a matter-of-fact tone.
What aspects of our text fit
this definition?
Ambiguity:
The expression of ideas in a
text that suggests more than
one meaning.
What aspects of our text fit
this definition?
The Ending:
“I found myself standing before a
middle-aged, sturdily built man with a
thick mustache, his square face with
his short nose and glassy stare
reminding me of a cat.”
“All we glimpsed of him was his swaying
back, then a swift about face as he bid
us farewell with a fleeting Norwegian
smile.” (pg 1036)
McCarthyism
In 1954the
Period
During
Senator
Although
of
McCarthy,
athe
political
hearing
late
Senate
1940s
meanwhile,
onForeign
persecution
McCarthy's
and early
Relations
sought
during when
1950s,
publicity
Committee
allegations
theinvestigated
to
1950s,
Cold
of
revive
suspected
War
led
flagging
tensions
by
McCarthy's
US senator
communists
support
were
Joethe
mounting,
for
allegations,
in
McCarthy,
his
US
re-election.
many
Army
it
during
Americans
was
didtelevised
not
which
In uncover
1950,
were
many
alarmed
atany
a
public
by
Republican
evidence
nationally.
the spread
officials
atwomen's
all
In
of
person
of
and
communism
meeting
communists
private
his allegations
both
in
citizens
in the
were hollow
abroad
Wheeling,
Department
rang
accused
andWest
at
of
and
of
home.
State.
Virginia,
being
seemed
Overseas,
Nevertheless,
communists
brutal
he claimed
China
and
or
communist
became
to
McCarthy
crude.
knowHe
communist
the
made
sympathizers.
was
identities
further
and the
accusations
discredited
of
Although
USSR
205 more
State
and
McCarthy
militarily
Department
began
when
the
a nationwide
was
Senate
aggressive;
officials
officially
officially
campaign
with
at
censured
home
communist
censured
to hunt
Soviet
by
the for
spy
links.
down
him
Senate
cases,
communists
Although
misconduct.
for misconduct
such
as those
groundless,
and
communist
The
US
against
in
Supreme
his
1954
(most made
Julius
allegations
sympathizers.
Court
of
and
his
a
Ethel
provided
evidence
series
Those
Rosenberg,
who
of
awas
fearful
decisions
appeared
caused
US
fabricated),
great
public
before
1955–58
scandal.
with
congressional
thatan
his
helped
The
explanation
claims
US
to
committees
government
protect
induced
for the
an
were
atmosphere
began
spread
confronted
civil
investigating
rights
of communism
ofof
with
suspicion
circumstantial
people
federal
and
accused
and workers
sparked
paranoia
of
mass
thatcreating
and
anti-communist
evidence
having
destroyed
communist
and intimidation.
lists
many
hysteria.
links.
of
careers.
organizations
Many
The term
has come
suspected
people
accused
to
ofsignify
communist
others
any
to
activity.
type
saveof
their
reckless
own
careers.
political
Those who
persecution
tried toor
witch-hunt.
criticize
the government's methods
were labeled communist sympathizers.
Theme & Purpose:
The Norwegian Rat & McCarthyism
Setting
The
Norwegian
Rat
McCarthyism
Irrational
Fear
The Accuser
What is
Gained by
the
accuser?
Response and Analysis Questions: (pg 1037)
1. How do the people prepare for the rat invasion?
2. Who inspects the narrator’s home? How do the narrator and his wife
perceive this person at first? How does this perception change at
the end of the story?
3. What sources of information about the rats do people in the story
have access to? How reliable do you think these are? Explain.
4. What happens to people’s emotions as preparations continue but not
rat attack has yet to occur? Is there psychological truth in this
reaction? Do you know any examples?
5. What conclusions can you draw about the rat invasion based on the
text?
6. Ambiguity is used in the final scene. How do you interpret it?
Explain your opinion.
7. What does the government accomplish in the story through the rat
invasion? What might Mahfouz be suggesting about government?
Powerful institutions? The governed?
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The Norwegian Rat - English II with Mr. Davis