The Nile river, on whose banks the Sudanese village of Wad Hamid sits, represents the great forces of nature, which are capable of both sustaining life and destroying it. The Nile’s symbolic value as a force of nature capable of sustaining life is suggested by the fact that it is this river on which the villagers of Wad Hamid depend for their livelihoods. It is the waters of the Nile that irrigate their fields, and allow them to cultivate the crops that enable their survival in the otherwise hostile environment of northern Sudan, which is mostly desert. On the other hand, as a symbol of nature, the Nile is also depicted as potentially menacing and destructive. When the river overflows one year as a result of floods, it claims people’s lives—most notably Mustafa Sa’eed’s, who disappears into the waters, never to be found again. Likewise, the narrator almost loses his life when, at the end of the novel, he attempts to swim from one bank of the river to the other, and almost drowns in the process, as a result of the strong currents pulling him down into their depths. In its depiction as a force both capable of giving life and taking life, therefore, the Nile represents the contradictory, and awesome, powers of nature.
The Nile River Quotes in Season of Migration to the North
Though Wad Baseer is still alive today, he no longer makes such doors as that of my grandfather’s house, later generations of villagers having found out about zan wood doors and iron doors which they bring from Omdurman. The market for water-wheels, too, dried up with the coming of pumps.
“The ships at first sailed down the Nile carrying guns not bread, and the railways were originally set up to transport troops; the schools were started so as to teach us how to say “Yes” in their language.”
Was I asleep or awake? Was I alive or dead? Even so, I was still holding a thin, frail thread: the feeling that the goal was in front of me, not below me, and that I must move forwards and not downwards. But the thread was so frail it almost snapped and I reached a point where I felt that forces lying in the river-bed were pulling me down to them.
Now I am making a decision. I choose life […] I moved my feet and arms, violently and with difficulty, until the upper part of my body was above water […] I screamed with all my remaining strength, “Help! Help!”