It seems that any time a dystopian novel is published, it questions the boundaries and limits of society in a different way by illustrating the extremes of what people are capable of. While this is true in the book Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik, there also is a serious focus on defining what humanity is versus being animalistic.
While we are all a part of the human race, defining humanity can require a different definition. Towfik, through the two main characters from Utopia and from the others, defines what it means to be a human and have humanity. You may expect the two characters, one coming from wealth and privilege and one who has only known poverty and despair, to have different definitions of humanity but it appears they are quite similar. Both men seem to think the “Others” of Utopia are “savage” (p.76) and compare them to “stupid animals” (p.105) because of their lust for only sex and violence. They also see their dirtiness as an animalistic characteristic that prevents them from seeing the Others as human.
I noticed though that it seems neither of the characters defines humanity as just being a human being. Both men seem to believe that without the more civilized components, somebody is not an actual human.
Another point that I noticed that should be recognized is the direct comparisons of the two main characters. Even though the Utopian narrator has lived a lavish life of luxury, he is the who is more capable of violence. The whole point of his and Germinal’s trip to Utopia is to cut off somebody’s hand to take home. This obviously displays the character’s ability for violence as, when the time comes to knock out the Other woman to cut off her hand, the narrator does not hesitate and hits her on the neck rendering her unconscious. On the other hand, the character Gaber is unable to follow through on his plans for violence. When he sneaks away from the chicken slaughter house to rape Germinal, he is unable to do it. He attempts to be violent with her but is incapable of really doing any harm to her. We know through Gaber’s previous thoughts that he wants something more out of life and his relationships and it seems that this desire may be part of what keeps him from mindless violence and sex.
After reading about half the book now, many questions have developed about the characters that we are following. What is it about Gaber that makes him different from the Others? Why is he above the unnecessary violence and killing of people while the narrator from Utopia is not immune to the draws of violence?