Season of Migration to the North

by

Tayeb Salih

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Season of Migration to the North can help.
Mahjoub is the narrator’s oldest and closest friend. He is a resident of Wad Hamid, the village where the narrator has roots. Mahmoud and the narrator attended elementary school together. However, while the narrator continues on with his education and eventually goes abroad to study, Mahjoub learns only enough arithmetic and writing to help him carry out farming work in the village. In spite of his limited education, he distinguishes himself as a village citizen, taking on a leading role in a village cooperative project that improves farmers’ and villagers’ lives. Through this project, he also becomes acquainted with Mustafa Sa’eed, the stranger who settles in the village, and whose secret history the narrator slowly uncovers. Mahjoub’s pragmatic ability to effect change in the village is contrasted with the narrator’s own more prestigious—yet emptier—work for the ministry of education in the capital, Khartoum. While the two friends are very close, their friendship is threatened after Hosna’s murder of Wad Rayyes. The two take a different view of the murder-suicide: while Mahjoub condemns Hosna’s actions, the narrator defends her, and this causes a break in their friendship.

Mahjoub Quotes in Season of Migration to the North

The Season of Migration to the North quotes below are all either spoken by Mahjoub or refer to Mahjoub. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the NYRB Classics edition of Season of Migration to the North published in 2009.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“You know how life is run here,” [Mahjoub] interrupted me. “Women belong to men, and a man’s a man even if he’s decrepit.”

Related Characters: Mahjoub (speaker), The Narrator, Hosna bint Mahmoud, Wad Rayyes
Page Number: Book Page 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Chapter 7 Quotes

[Mahjoub] will not believe the facts about the new rulers of Africa, smooth of face, lupine of mouth, their hands gleaming with rings of precious stones, exuding perfume from their cheeks, in white, blue, black and green suits of fine mohair and expensive silk rippling on their shoulders like the fur of Siamese car, and with shoes that reflect the light from chandeliers and squeak as they tread on marble.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mahjoub
Page Number: Book Page 98
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 8 Quotes

“A week or ten days after you went away [Hosna’s] father said he had given Wad Rayyes a promise—and they married her off to him. Her father swore at her and beat her; he told her she’d marry him whether she liked it or not.”

Related Characters: Mahjoub (speaker), The Narrator, Hosna bint Mahmoud, Wad Rayyes
Page Number: Book Page 101
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Season of Migration to the North LitChart as a printable PDF.
Season of migration to the north.pdf.medium

Mahjoub Character Timeline in Season of Migration to the North

The timeline below shows where the character Mahjoub appears in Season of Migration to the North. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Migration and Identity Theme Icon
...narrator occasionally encounters Mustafa. One evening, he is at a drinking gathering at his friend Mahjoub’s house, and Mustafa stops by to ask Mahjoub something about the agricultural project they both... (full context)
Chapter 6
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
The narrator goes to see his friend Mahjoub, whom he finds working in his field, and they discuss the conflict over Hosna’s potential... (full context)
Migration and Identity Theme Icon
The conversation turns to Hosna’s dead husband, Mustafa Sa’eed, about whom the narrator questions Mahjoub. Mahjoub expresses admiration for Mustafa Sa’eed; he tells the narrator he had gotten to know... (full context)
Migration and Identity Theme Icon
Suddenly, Mahjoub suggests that the narrator should marry Hosna himself, given that he is her legal guardian... (full context)
Chapter 8
Migration and Identity Theme Icon
...from a steamer onto the quay of the village of Wad Hamid. Only his friend Mahjoub is there to meet him. The narrator asks how Mahjoub could have let “this” happen,... (full context)
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
Conquest and Colonialism Theme Icon
Modernity and Change Theme Icon
...want to talk about the conference. Under better circumstances, he would have shared details with Mahjoub, telling him about the corruption of the new rulers of Africa. There, the narrator had... (full context)
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
As they pass the cemetery, Mahjoub tells the narrator that they have buried the bodies and asked the women of the... (full context)
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
...After killing Wad Rayyes, Hosna had plunged the knife into her own heart. Bint Majzoub, Mahjoub, Bakri and a few others had buried the bodies quickly before sunrise. When Bint Majzoub... (full context)
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
After his meeting with Bint Majzoub, the narrator goes to find Mahjoub out in his field, working. He shares with Mahjoub what he has learned from Bint... (full context)
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
Migration and Identity Theme Icon
Modernity and Change Theme Icon
Mahjoub says that before her marriage to Wad Rayyes, Hosna had approached him and asked him... (full context)