Half a day - BBC grade 12

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Half a day
By : Naguib Mahfouz
Setting
• The narrator contrasts the
landscape on the way to
school with the school
building itself . The
landscape is green and
lush with gardens ,fields
and date trees . The
school building is like a
fortress and to the boy it
seems “stern and grim” .
He thinks going to school
is a punishment .
Personification
• Mahfouz enhances the
intimidating aspect of
school by using
personification in his
description of the gate
.When closed it lets out a
sound “pitiable screech “ ;
meaning that the gate is
rusty and makes a
scrapping sound . The
sound reflects the boy’s
feelings as he’s left alone
.
The passing of time
• The writer hints about the passing of time and
that more happens in it then could in a day by :
1-The phase “bade farewell” .
2-It’s strange to find many sweethearts and friends
in so short a period .
3-Given his nervousness on the way to school
,he’s not disturbed that his father isn’t there to
meet him .
4-It’s odd that the middle aged man greets the boy
as an equal .
Cairo of his youth versus city of
today
• Mahfouz expresses his
dislike of the city of today
by mentioning unpleasant
details about modern life .
He compares Cairo of his
youth to nowadays by
mentioning the changes
that took place .Much
green space is gone . He
sees crowds of people
,traffic jams ,skyscrapers
and heaps of garbage ;
Mahfouz is unhappy with
this modern life
Symbolism
• The half day at school
symbolizes how
quickly time seems to
pass . Naguib
describes half a day
and an entire life in
two paragraphs .
Point of view
• The short story is said
from the first person
point of view in order
to focus on the
narrator’s perceptions
of how quickly time
passes .
Surprise ending
• An unexpected plot twist at the
end of a story . The surprise
might be surprising because
the author provides ambiguous
clues or important information .
The story ends with a young
man calling him “grandpa” .
Naguib is trying to convey how
much change the city and he
have undergone in what to him
seems no more than a half a
day .The ending effectively
conveys the effect of change .
Psychological portraits
• Naguib mahfouz is known for creating
psychological portraits of characters
whose personal struggles mirror the social
,political ,religious and cultural concerns of
his homeland. In “half a day” the narrator’s
struggle with change (from the intimacy of
home to the excitement and harshness of
school ) mirrors Egypt’s struggle with
change (from an intimate ,agrarian society
to a harsh ,bustling urban one)
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