Are We Really All That Different? 

Utopia, written by Ahmed Towfik, is a story created from the point of view of a privileged young man, and also an under privileged young man. The story switches points of view after each section ends. In this writing structure, Towfik is creating a theme of the rich and the poor. 

In Utopia, the rich are valued and separated from the “others”, who are those who are submerged in poverty. You can see this line between them on page eleven that says, “Utopia, the isolated colony that the rich created on the North Coast to protect themselves from the sea of angry poverty outside, and that now fences in everything they might want.” The rich have everything and because of that, they feel the need to protect themselves from anything outside of their little colony. They have taken everything from the “others” and left them with scraps and are unwilling to fix their problems. I see this attitude the Utopian’s have towards the Others as out of sight, out of mind. By creating this barrier between them, they are able to ignore the problems and pretend as if they do not exist. 

Now the Utopian’s see themselves as superior to the Others, but as the story later unfolds you can see that they really are not all that different. On page 104, Gaber, who is the poor “other”, says, “The most important thing is that every moment makes me feel that the points of similarity between us are quite strong. Here and there, we’re both in love with violence. Here and there, we both love drugs. Here and there, we both avidly watch movies about rape. Here and there, we both talk about religion all the time. There they take drugs to escape boredom. There they practise their religion because they are afraid of losing all of that, and they do not know why or how they deserved it. Here we take drugs to forget the agony of the moment. Here we practise our religion because we cannot stand the thought that our efforts are nothing but scattered dust with no value. The human mind cannot endure a terrifying idea like that, otherwise it would go mad.” 

I think Towfik made these connections between these two completely different boys, who grew up in extremely opposite classes, to show us that although we all come from particular backgrounds and we have various opinions, we really aren’t all that distant from each other. We as a society have been constructed to think that it is impossible to have anything in common with someone who was not raised the same as us. I think Towfik blurred the binary he created between the rich and the poor to show us that we are all humans in the end and we truly aren’t all that different from one another.


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