“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet”-William Shakespeare

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, one theme that can be applied to Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia. The novel Utopia, takes place in an isolated colony the rich created on the North Coast of Egypt to keep poverty out, in the year 2023. In this novel, we follow two men around the different societies of Utopia, one society of Utopians and another of the Others.  Our first narrator, who is unnamed, but because he finds his name very unimportant. He lives in Utopia, and has a very grim reaper style as he would justify. While our other narrator’s name is Gaber, he belongs to the Others, (The Others are individuals who live outside of Utopia, and are extremely deprived). Gaber’s features are very dirty and unkept, since “Others” don’t have running water or proper cleaning facilities.

Although there are great examples of the wealthy vs the poor in this novel, I will be focusing on the narrator’s names, something so simple yet we tend to overlook it. The narrator from Utopia finds his name to be insignificant,

“Who am I? Let’s not talk about names. What’s the value of names when you’re no different from anyone else?” (pg. 6).

Our narrator sees himself as not being different since everyone in Utopia is rich, and has the ability to buy anything their heart desires, which devalues one’s own self. The narrator tries to be unique, in his style, yet every teenager in Utopia dresses in a gothic manner to stand out, which creates this uniformity.

While our other narrator’s name is Gaber, he straightforwardly tells narrator 1 from Utopia. While narrator 1 is being saved by Gaber in the ruins,

“Thanks for rescuing us,’ I told him, ‘My name is Gaber’” (pg.75).

I ponder the idea that Gaber is more immediate about telling us his name because when you have nothing left in the world but a shack and dead dog, your name is the only thing you can cling onto. Another theme in this book is humanity, one thing that keeps the Others from not becoming animalistic on each other is having names.  We name our dogs because we domesticate them, having names tames and humanizes the Others.


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